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The law and consumer debt collection

Debtors usually experience many calls from creditors attempting to collect payments from them. Debtors often think collectors can do what they want, but the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act protects consumers from unfair and abusive collection tactics. Knowing what it prohibits may be able to help consumers know when a debt collector breaks the law.


Harassment accounts for 40% of complaints against debt collectors. Harassment includes constant calling that causes an annoyance to the debtor, using obscene language or making threats to have them arrested. However, the FDCPA does not set a predetermined amount of calls for debt collection harassment. The courts usually decide how many calls constitute harassment, and that varies by state.

Calling Outside Allowed Hours

The Fair Debt Collection Practices allows debtors to call between 8am and 9pm. Collectors who call outside those hours commonly commit a violation of the FDCPA.

A debtor can make arrangements with collectors to contact them about the debt outside those hours. For example, the debtor who works second or third shifts may not be available during allowed times. Even if the call would be allowed under normal circumstances, a collector cannot call them during those hours.


The law allows them to find debtor contact information through a third party, but they cannot talk about the debt with them. They can only discuss the debt with the debtor. The law also forbids them to publish lists of who owes them money.

While they are allowed to call debtors at work, they have to stop if the debtor requests it. Some employers don’t allow personal calls, so the debtor may inform the collector and give them a different number.

Debt collections often cause emotional distress as well as physical problems without unfair practices. Sending a cease and desist usually helps stop constant calling. A debtor may also communicate with the collectors through an attorney and sue for damages if needed.