Living Frugal
How to Stop Debt Collection Harassment



What are your rights as a consumer against debt collection harassment?


Don't think you have to take anything a debt collection agent dishes out just because you've fallen on hard times. Know your rights when dealing with debt collectors.


  • First and foremost, you have a right to your privacy. Your debt is your personal information and it is private. 
  • It is not legal for a debt collector or debt collection agent to disclose any debt related information to anyone except you or someone who represents you such as an attorney.
  • In regards to the correspondence a debt collector can send you, they cannot identify themselves as a debt collection agency. The envelope cannot give any indication that it is from a debt collector.

Debt Dispute

  • You can request proof of debt from the debt collection agency upon their first contact with you.
  • Until the debt collector sends you the verification letter with proof of your debts, they cannot contact you via phone or mail until the debt has been verified.
  • If the debt collector cannot provide you proof of the debt, they must discontinue the collection process and can no longer contact you regarding the debt.
  • Every debt collector must send you a written validation notice. This notice includes how much money you owe and to whom.
  • The letter must be sent within 5 days of first making contact with you and must include instructions on how to proceed if you don't think you owe the money.

Debt Collection Harassment

  • There are some bad debt collection agents out there. If a debt collector is calling you over and over and over or if they are calling your workplace, a cease communication letter can be sent to them. You can request that they only communicate with you via mail. 
  • After the cease communication letter is sent, the debt collector can only communicate with you regarding a collection that has been stopped or to let you know that there is a pending debt collection lawsuit against you. You can stop debt collection harassment and illegal debt collection practices.
  • If you have an attorney representing you in the debt collection process, the debt collection agency can only communicate with your attorney.
  • Under no circumstance can debt collection agents use threats against you. This includes harming your reputation, using offensive language or calling you repeatedly. All these actions are prohibited under the Fair Debt Collection Act of 1982 and are illegal debt collection practices.
  • Threatening to arrest you, garnish your wages or seize property are illegal debt collection practices unless the debt collector intends to take such actions. 
  • If they are threatening to take assets that cannot legally be taken, their threat is illegal.

Can a debt collector garnish my wages or freeze my bank accounts?

  • A debt collector will likely sue you to collect the money but your outstanding debt by itself does not give them the right to garnish your wages or freeze your bank accounts.
  • If they file a debt collection lawsuit and win in court, the court will enter a judgment against you. The judgment will allow the collector to take out a garnishment order against you. This garnishment order directs a third party (bank or employer) to turn over funds from your account or wages to pay the debt.
  • The ONLY way your wages can be garnished is as a result of a court order.
  • If you receive communication from the debt collector indicating they have filed suit against you, don't ignore it.

Report Debt Collection Harassment

  • No matter what you situation is, you deserve to be treated with respect by anyone including a debt collection agent
  • If you feel you've been treated unfairly, report the debt collector to the FTC via the FTC Website.
  • Also, the Association of Credit and Collection Professionals has a complaint system where you can file a complaint against one of its members.
  • If you feel you have been a victim of unfair or illegal debt collection practices, you can file a civil suit but you must do this within one year of the suspected violation.

Just because you have fallen behind on your bills does not mean you can be treated with disrespect by a debt collection agent. Report Debt Collection Harassment if you are a victim of illegal debt collection practices.





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