What are my rights with debt collectors?

Personal Injury Lawyer

Most Americans are no strangers to debt. In fact, a majority of us are living with some kind of it: mortgages, student loans, automobile payments, credit card or medical debt are some of the most common. 

If you’re behind on payments and being contacted by a debt collector, it can be an unpleasant experience. And it may be happening more than once a day.

These are some of the most frequently asked questions clients ask about their rights.

Are collection tactics legally protected on all debts?

No, only on consumer debts. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) covers consumer debts defined as those engaged in for personal, family or household purposes. Business debts are therefore not covered.

Additionally, debts must be transacted rather than involuntarily placed on you. This means debts accrued from something like parking tickets are not covered.

What can debt collectors say to me?

Debt collectors will put out their best persuasion and pressure tactics to try and get you to pay the debt. 

They won’t be sympathetic as to how you got into this debt, even if it’s not your fault. But they will try to make you feel guilty about it and encourage you to borrow money or go to any length to pay it off. Debt collectors may even suggest the one they are collecting is the most important to get paid, even if that’s not true considering all factors in your case. 

How do I know if the collector is harassing me?

While these are things you may hear them try, you must stand your ground and not give in. Know your rights and what language may cross the line. Harassing, abusive, false or misleading statements violate the FDCPA. 

Here is what to look out for:

  • Threatening to arrest or jail you
  • Threatening to report false information to credit agencies
  • Threatening to take your Social Security Income or other protected income
  • Threatening physical harm to you or your property
  • Threatening to take furniture
  • Using obscene or profane language
  • Making empty threats to scare you
  • Misrepresenting the debt
  • Pretending to work for a government agency or a credit reporting agency
  • Pretending to be an attorney or to work with an attorney

By working with a trusted firm like,  a debt collection lawyer, you can stop these debt collection calls so you don’t have to deal with them. A lawyer can help you manage this situation, protect your rights, and possibly negotiate more fair terms in your favor. 

Do they have to disclose who they are?

A debt collector should provide their personal name (it may be an alias) and the name of the company. If they are reluctant to give this information the call may not be legitimate.

Can a debt collector charge me extra fees?

Debt collectors may only seek repayment for the exact amount that is owed. Collectors cannot add additional interest on a debt unless it is part of your original agreement with the original creditor.  No arbitrary amounts or administrative fees can be added.