Q.Debt collection practices—what practices are prohibited?
A.The Federal Trade Commission's rules on debt collection prohibit a debt collector seeking to collect a consumer debt for a personal, family or household related item/service from engaging in harassment, making false or misleading statements, and from using unfair practices.
1. Harassment. A debt collector must not harass, oppress, or abuse you or any other person they contact (e.g. threats of violence or harm, use of obscene or profane language, repeated use of the telephone to annoy someone, publish a list of consumers who refuse to pay their debts, except to a credit bureau).
2. False or Misleading statements. A debt collector must not use false or misleading statement when attempting to collect a debt. For example, the debt collector must not:
- falsely imply that they are an attorney or collection agency;
- falsely imply that you have committed a crime or will be arrested;
- send you a document that looks like an official court or government document, when it is not;
- misrepresent the amount of your debt;
- use a false name;
- say that you will be arrested if you do not pay your debt;
- say they will take legal action, when they have no intent to take such legal action;
- threaten to seize, garnish, attach, or sell your property or wages, when such action may not be legally taken (in some cases it may); or
- give false credit information about you to anyone, including a credit bureau.
3. Unfair Practices. A debt collector must not engage in unfair practices when trying to collect a debt. For example, a debt collector must not:
- deposit a post-dated check prematurely
- take, or threaten to take, your property unless permitted by law
- collect an amount greater than your actual debt, unless permitted by your state law
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