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Can debt collectors threaten to take legal action against you?

If you have missed credit card payments in the past, you may feel a rush of anxiety every time your phone rings or vibrates. After all, you may receive more calls from debt collectors than you do from family members, friends, colleagues or others.

Debt collectors typically know how to convince individuals to pay. Still, according to the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, debt collectors cannot harass, threaten or abuse you. Can they threaten to take legal action against you, though?

Appropriate legal action

Even though making threats is against federal law, debt collectors typically can threaten to take appropriate legal action against you. That is, they can tell you what is likely to happen if you do not pay.

For example, a debt collector probably can explain wage garnishments and other relevant legal tactics. When doing so, though, they should not make you feel like your personal safety is in danger. If they do that, the debt collectors are going too far.

Inappropriate legal action

Just because you can theoretically become part of some legal action does not mean debt collectors can threaten you with it. If a debt collector threatens to call Child Protective Services, report you for a child custody violation or arrest you, you may have a valid harassment claim. The same is true if a debt collector threatens to interfere with your public benefits in some way.

You do not have to let creditor threats turn you into a victim. Ultimately, if you believe a debt collector has behaved in a threatening way, it is advisable to explore all your legal options as soon as possible.