Debt collectors must do these things
First, as promised, the short list of things that debt collectors MUST do when they contact you:
Tell you they are attempting to collect a debt
Tell you that any information you tell them will be used for the purpose of collecting your debt; and
Tell you their name, as well as the name of the agency they work for
There, that was painless. But now let’s look at the don’ts. This list is a little more intensive than the last. There are rules, exceptions, and exceptions to those exceptions, so buckle up.
Collectors must not do these things
A list of things that debt collectors MUST NOT do when they try to collect your debt:
Contact you at an unusual or inconvenient time or place, generally before 8:00AM or after 9:00PM without your permission.
Call you at work if they know that your boss does not allow debt collection calls at work.
Contact third-parties about your debt. In other words, they cannot call someone other than you about your debt.
Threaten to use violence, or to harm you or another person’s reputation
Use obscene, profane, or abusive language
Publish your name as someone who doesn’t pay bills
List your debt for sale to the public
Claim to be a law enforcement agency
Lie about the amount you owe
Claim to be an attorney
Threaten to do things that they don’t actually intend to do
Use a fake business name
Add fees and interest that weren’t allowed by the original agreement
In regards to not contacting third parties about your debt, there are some exceptions, and this is where the fun begins. Debt collectors can contact:
Your attorney, if you have one. In fact, they must contact your attorney if they know you have one.
A credit reporting agency
The original creditor
And unless you’ve asked them to stop contacting you, they may contact co-debtors, your parents (if you’re a minor), and your spouse
However, if they are trying to find you, they actually can contact third-parties, but they can’t
Tell someone who their employer is, unless asked
Say that you owe a debt; or
Contact the third-party more than once, unless they are asked to do so by the person, or they think the person gave them incorrect information when the person had the correct information
Finally, they cannot send postcards or other insecure means of communication. The purpose of this rule is to make it so that someone who simply sees your mail won’t know about your debt.