If you’re behind in paying your bills, you may be contacted by a debt collector — someone who regularly collects debts owed to others. This includes collection agencies, lawyers who collect debts on a regular basis, and companies that buy delinquent debts and then try to collect them.
You have the right to be treated fairly by debt collectors. Under federal law, they can’t use abusive, deceptive or unfair practices to collect from you. But not all debt collectors play by the rules. In fact, the FTC recently settled a case against Rumson, Bolling & Associates, a debt collection company that berated people with obscene and profane language, threatened them with physical harm, told their employers, co-workers, neighbors, and other people about their debts, and falsely threatened them with lawsuits, arrest, seizure of their property, or wage garnishment. All of these actions are against the law, and the FTC has seen to it that abusers pay dearly. The company is permanently banned from the debt collection business and has agreed to pay more than a million dollars in judgments.
It’s important to understand your rights if you’re ever contacted by a debt collector. And if you believe a collector has violated those rights, make sure to visit our page on debt collection for more information.