We, here at your BBB, often receive calls from consumers who have been called by someone trying to collect a debt. The debt may or may not be real, and, the callers we here about often make threats, call at all hours or multiple times a day, or sometimes misrepresent themselves as working for an attorney or financial relief counselors, as reported in a recent Federal Trade Commission case. We often get asked whether the caller is “legitimate.” While we can’t specifically address the “legitimacy” of a company, we can tell you that there is a law in place called the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) that what debt collectors can and cannot do.
According to the FTC, who enforces the FDCPA, debt collectors may not:
*call you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
*contact you at work if you’ve told them verbally or in writing that your employer doesn’t allow you to get such calls in the workplace
*contact a third party, such as a friend or non-spouse family member, about you for any reason other than getting your contact information
*harass or abuse you or anyone else they contact about you
*lie about the amount you owe
*use deceptive methods to collect a debt from you. For example, they may not:
-claim to be law enforcement officers
-claim that you’ll be arrested if you don’t pay your debt
-threaten to seize, garnish, attach or sell your property or your wages — unless they are permitted by law to do it and intend to do so
-give false credit information about you to anyone, including a credit reporting company
-use a fake company name