Know the Regulations for Debt Collectors


NEW YORK (AP) — Debt collection is a highly regulated industry and consumers are protected under both federal and state laws. Here are some important things to know about dealing with debt collectors:

— The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act limits the hours a debt collector can call to between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m., but if you inform them of specific times you can't be disturbed or prefer to be contacted, they must follow your instructions.

— Collectors can't call you at work if you tell them your employer does not allow such calls.

— Your relatives and friends can be contacted for information about how to find you, but they can't be told about your debt.

— Debt collectors must identify themselves and state why they are calling.

— If you tell a collector in writing to stop contacting you, they must do so, but they can let you know they are pursuing the debt through other legal means like a lawsuit.

— A debt collector cannot harass or abuse a person when trying to collect a debt, including using obscene language or threatening harm.

— If you think the collector has violated any of these rules, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

—You may also be able to file a separate complaint with your state attorney general if you suspect the collector has violated state laws.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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