Credit and debt collection laws are designed to protect consumers from illegal and unethical tactics used by debt collection agencies.

Credit and debt laws designed to protect consumer's rights include:

  • Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) 888-FDCPA-Law (888-332-7252)
  • Fair Credit Reporting Act,
  • Credit Repair Organization Act,
  • Truth in Lending Act
  • Fair Credit Billing Act

A debt collector may contact you by telephone, fax, telegram, mail or in person. However, a debt collector may not contact you at inconvenient times or places, (such as before 8am or after 9pm), unless you agree. Also, a collector may not contact you at work if the collector knows that your employer disapproves.

Prohibited Collection Practices

UNFAIR PRACTICES - Debt collectors may not engage in unfair practices when they try to collect a debt. Including:

  • take or threaten to take your property unless this can be done legally;
  • deposit a post-dated check prematurely;
  • collect any amount greater than your debt, unless your state law permits such a charge;
  • use deception to make you accept collect calls or pay for telegrams;
  • use a false name.
  • send you anything that looks like an official document from a court or government agency when it is not; or
  • contact you by postcard.

HARASSMENT - Debt collectors may not harass, abuse, or oppress anyone or any third parties they contact. Including:

  • use obscene or profane language;
  • use threats of violence or harm;
  • repeatedly use the telephone to annoy someone;
  • publish a list of consumers who refuse to pay their debts (except to a credit bureau);

FALSE STATEMENTS - Debt collection laws prohibit debt collectors of using any false statements when collecting a debt, such as:

  • falsely imply that you have committed a crime;
  • state that you will be arrested if you do not pay your debt;
  • misrepresent the amount of your debt;
  • state that they will seize, garnish, attach, or sell your property or wages, unless the collection agency or creditor intends to do so, and it is legal to do so;
  • falsely imply that they are attorneys or government representatives;
  • falsely represent that they operate or work for a credit bureau;
  • give false credit information about you to anyone, including a credit bureau;
  • state that actions, such as a lawsuit, will be taken against you, which legally may not be taken, or which they do not intend to take;
  • indicate that papers being sent to you are not legal forms when they are;
  • indicate that papers being sent to you are legal forms when they are not.

GARNISHMENT - Wage garnishment happens when your employer withholds part of your compensation to pay your debts. Your wages usually can be garnished only as the result of a court order.

If a debt collector win a lawsuit against you, the court will enter a judgment against you on the amount of money owned. This allows the collection agency to get a garnishment order against you, directing a third party, like your bank, to turn over funds from your account to pay the debt.

Federal benefits are exempt from garnishment are:

  • Social Security Benefits
  • Veterans’ Benefits
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Benefits
  • Civil Service and Federal Retirement and Disability Benefits
  • Military Annuities and Survivors’ Benefits
  • Service Members’ Pay
  • Student Assistance
  • Merchant Seamen Wages
  • Railroad Retirement Benefits
  • Longshoremen’s and Harbor Workers’ Death and Disability Benefits
  • Compensation for Injury, Death, or Detention of Employees of U.S. Contractors Outside the U.S.
  • Foreign Service Retirement and Disability Benefits
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency Federal Disaster Assistance

Only under certain circumstances, (to pay delinquent taxes, child support, alimony, or student loans) federal benefits may be garnished.

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DISCLAIMER: The law will vary depending on your state, jurisdiction and the specifics of your case. The information provided by is intended for educational purposes only. The content on this site should NOT be considered professional legal advice or a substitute for professional legal advice. For such services, we recommend getting a free initial consultation by a licensed Attorney in your state.

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