Don't Be Bullied: Understanding Debt Collector Harassment and Your Rights

  • Posted By
    Victoria Stephens

  • Published On
    Sat, Feb 24

  • Reading Time
    4 Minutes

Debt collection can be a stressful experience, especially if the collector engages in unfair or harassing practices. Fortunately, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) protects consumers from such actions. This article will explain what constitutes debt collector harassment, the FDCPA's role in protecting you, and your rights as a consumer.

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What is Debt Collector Harassment?

Debt collector harassment refers to any abusive, unfair, or deceptive practices used to collect a debt. Examples include:

  • Repeated and excessive phone calls: Calling you constantly, leaving multiple voicemails per day, or contacting you at unreasonable hours like early morning or late night.
  • Using threats and intimidation: Threatening to arrest you (which is generally illegal), garnish your wages illegally, or harm your credit score.
  • Using profane or abusive language: Swearing at you, yelling, or using other language meant to intimidate or humiliate you.
  • False statements or misleading information: Lying about the amount you owe, claiming to be an attorney when they are not, or misrepresenting the consequences of not paying the debt.
  • Contacting your family, friends, or employer about your debt: Discussing your debt with individuals who are not legally responsible for the debt.
  • Publicly disclosing your debt: Publishing your name or other identifying information as a debtor, unless permitted by law.

Understanding the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA):

The FDCPA is a federal law that regulates the behavior of debt collectors. It prohibits them from engaging in the aforementioned harassing practices and sets specific guidelines for how they can contact you and collect the debt.

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Your Rights as a Consumer:

The FDCPA empowers you with specific rights when dealing with debt collectors, including:

  • The right to stop communication: You can send a written request to the debt collector demanding they stop contacting you directly, except for initial communication, legal action, or court-ordered attempts to collect the debt.
  • The right to request validation of the debt: You have the right to request written verification of the debt, including the amount owed, the name of the original creditor, and your rights under the FDCPA.
  • The right to dispute the debt: If you believe the debt is not yours or there are errors in the amount, you can dispute it with the debt collector and they are obligated to investigate your claim.
  • The right to sue for violations: If a debt collector violates the FDCPA, you can sue them in federal court and potentially recover damages, including attorney's fees.

Taking Action:

If you are being harassed by a debt collector, you can take the following steps:

  • Document everything: Keep written records of all communication with the debt collector, including dates, times, and the content of the conversation.
  • Send a cease and desist letter: Inform the debt collector in writing to stop contacting you directly (except for the aforementioned exceptions).
  • Report the harassment: You can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or your state Attorney General's office.
  • Seek legal assistance: Consulting with an attorney specializing in consumer protection can be beneficial, especially if you are considering suing the debt collector.


You are not alone. Millions of consumers face debt collection issues, and you have rights protected by law. Do not feel pressured or intimidated by aggressive tactics. Understand your rights and utilize the resources available to protect yourself from unfair debt collection practices.

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