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Know Your Rights: 4 Things Bill Collectors Can’t Do


If you’ve ever fallen behind on one of your bills, you’re probably aware of the persistent tactics of many bill collectors. While a legitimate debt collector can do many things to try to obtain payment, there are still many limitations set by the law. Know your rights so you can spot scammers and protect yourself from illegitimate collection agencies. Here are some sneaky things a real bill collector can’t do.

Disrupt Your Evening

Debt collectors can only contact you between the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. The only exception to this rule is a phone call you’ve requested. If you ask a collector to call back outside these hours, he or she is permitted to honor that request.

If you do get a call during these restricted hours from someone claiming to be a debt collector, this is a major red flag that you’re dealing with a scammer. Never provide personal or financial information to a suspicious caller.

Threaten You Excessively

Ignoring your debts is dangerous for many reasons. Your credit score will suffer; the delinquency will appear on credit reports that potential employers, landlords, and lenders look at; and you could even have your wages garnished. A legitimate debt collector may warn you of these dangers. However, he or she cannot threaten excessive retribution.

You’re probably dealing with a fraudulent collector if he or she threatens arrest or any type of violent action. Legitimate collectors may not use profane language when they’re speaking with you. Remember that a legitimate debt collector is just doing his or her job. A scammer has a more vested interest in getting you to crack, so he or she is more likely to use threats or forceful language. Fight back against harassing callers, and take action to source the call and report fraudulent activities.

Make False Claims

Debt collectors have to stick to the truth. This means that they can’t claim to be attorneys or government representatives or use company names that are false. They’re also prohibited from making any threats that are not legitimate. This includes threatening to seize property, garnish wages, or take legal action unless these things are legally allowed in your case. If you owe a legitimate debt, it’s important to research your case so you know what debt collectors can and can’t do.

If you believe that a debt collector is making false threats, you can file a complaint with the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau at 855-411-2372. The bureau also has an online debt collection complaint form you can use.

Garnish Certain Types of Income

While debt collectors can garnish your wages in some states, there are certain types of income that they cannot take. This includes your social security benefits, veterans’ benefits, student assistance, supplemental security income, and many types of disability or retirement benefits. Don’t give in to intimidation if someone is making threats against ineligible income.

Unfortunately, dealing with suspicious debt collectors isn’t uncommon. Know your rights so you’re safe from this scam.


(Image source – witnessriches)

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