Unfair Debt Collections

Consumers deserve honesty, fairness, dignity and respect in their interactions with debt collectors. Our country has determined that abusive debt collectors increase societal illnesses such as divorce, bankruptcy, unemployment. Federal law regulates debt collections practices in specific ways and provides civil penalties for violations.

Fair Debt Collections Protection Act

Debt Collectors may not:
charge interest, fees, or collection charges, unless authorized by the agreement with the creditor to whom the debt is owed;

use any language, communication or conduct to harass, oppress, or abuse any person including:

  • threats of violence or harm to persons, property, or your reputation;
  • advertise your debt or publish a list of consumers who refuse to pay their debts, except to a credit bureaus;
  • use obscene or profane language;
  • repeatedly call to annoy;
  • call without identifying themselves;
  • use false statements when trying to collect a debt; Including:
    • o implying that they are an attorney or government representative;
    • implying that you have committed a crime by not paying a debt;
    • o represent that they operate or work for a credit bureau;
    • misrepresent the character, amount, or legal status of the debt;
    • say documents are legal papers when they are not;
    • say documents are not legal papers when they are;
    • they will seize, garnish, attach, or sell your property or wages, unless the collection agency or the creditor intends to do so and they have the right to do so.
    • take any actions against you which are illegal
    • violate any law in an effort to collect a debt
    • use a fake or false name, unless that name is allowed by state law and properly registered with the state, if required.

Collect any amount greater than your debt, unless allowed by law.

Deposit a post-dated check more than 5 days before the date on the check, without giving you notice of when they intend to deposit it.

Solicit a post-dated in order threaten criminal prosecution or threaten to cash the check early.

Make you accept collect calls or pay for telegrams.

Take or threaten to take your property unless this can be done legally, including wrongfully repossessing your vehicle.

Contact you by postcard.

Payments on Multiple Debts. A debt collector must apply you payments on multiple debts in the order you direct. A debt collector is prohibited from applying any payments you send in to debts that you believe you do not owe.

California’s Rosenthal Act:


Further resources: