When can a debt collector contact me or others?

It can be exhausting when a debt collector calls you non-stop about your debts. You have other responsibilities in life, and having a debt collector pursuing you may interrupt your daily activities and affect your work performance. You may owe the money, but that doesn’t give the collector the right to harass you for it. For this reason, the law forbids debt collectors from contacting their clients whenever they want to. If the collector breaks the rules, you have the right to sue them.

Debt collectors

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) protects debtors from excessive collection efforts by specifying when and how a collector can contact them. These terms do not apply to collectors of personal debts, as only third-party debt collectors must abide by these rules. Third-party debt collectors include:

  • Collectors of credit card debt
  • Collectors of medical bills
  • Collectors of student loans
  • Collectors of mortgages
  • Collectors of household debt

These debt collectors cannot contact you under specific circumstances.

Communication with you and others

Unless you give consent to the debt collector, they cannot contact you at any unusual time or place that is inconvenient for you. The collector may only call you between 8 am and 9 pm, not later or earlier than that. They also cannot call you at your place of employment if your employer prohibits this communication.

The FTC also specifies that a debt collector can only contact your acquaintances if they need information about how to contact you. They can only contact another person once, and they cannot communicate anything related to your debt. Before contacting another person or you directly, they must first contact your attorney if you have any concerning such debt. If the attorney allows it or does not respond, the collector will then contact you.

Stopping a collector’s efforts

If a collector is bothering you, you can ask them to stop contacting you. You must do this by certified mail to prove that they received the message. After you do this, the debt collector cannot get in touch with you unless they want to inform you that their efforts are over or that they or their creditor will invoke a specific remedy.

Your right as a debtor

If the debt collector violates any of these rules, you have the right to take legal action against them in court. If the court finds that they intentionally broke the rules, the collector will have to pay you the amount you owe, plus additional damages up to a maximum $1,000. They will also need to pay you all reasonable court costs and attorney’s fees. No one deserves to be harassed, and you have the right to fight back if this is happening to you.