Debt collectors are supposed to follow a set of rules when contacting people who owe money. But more often than not they break them, utilizing offensive, underhanded, and disrespectful tactics.
Once you know your rights and are aware of the rules, you have the means to deal with the debt collectors who harass you.
According to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, debt collectors cannot:
Call you before 8am or later than 8pm.
Call your family and friends to discuss your debt.
Say they will garnish your wages.
Say they will come to your home or job and arrest you.
Contact you after you have sent them a cease and desist letter.
Collection agents will use a variety of techniques to play on your fears and lack of awareness.
Here are some examples of the rotten tactics they use:
Dear Mr. Victim, we have a wage garnishment order here at our office. If you would like to take voluntary action to prevent the order from being enforced, please call 1-800-gotcha
That is a total lie. A wage garnishment is a court matter. If someone sues you, you're supposed to get a notice from the court in the mail saying so. Only a judge can determine how much gets deducted from your earnings. Child support and taxes are well known situations where garnishment occurs. If collection agencies had the legal authority to do so, everyone who owed money to anyone would notice a deduction in their paychecks.
We will have you picked up from your place of work or residence
Another fear tactic. Collection agents try to avoid saying they will have you arrested because it's against the law. So, they imply that they will have you arrested.
Owing money is not a criminal act. Therefore you won't do time for a maxed-out credit card. Check the internet, or ask people you trust. When was the last time you heard of anyone being arrested for owing money??
I am a state process server employed by the state of so-and-so to issue court documents regarding a debt you owe
Blatant deceit! A real process server never tells anyone what he's doing or reveals his identity. They simply locate you, and, if possible, serve you. Process servers expect people to try and avoid being served. That's why they use techniques like disguises to catch you unawares. It's against the law for a collection agent to say they are a state employee when they're not. Collection agents don't have the courage to do what a process server does. They spend all day in a cubicle working a phone and harass people.
If you feel you are being harassed by a collection agency, make sure you document the agent's name, date, time and the agency they work for. Also, document what was said in as much detail as possible.
Contact your state attorney general's office and the FTC to file a complaint
Check these websites for more info as well.