Can a debt collector threaten you?

Debt collectors can use various tactics to encourage people to pay. In some cases, they may resort to tactics that are illegal.

As most consumers do not know their rights, unscrupulous debt collectors often get away with it. Hence, understanding a little can help you know how to respond in the face of tactics that might feel intimidating.

One favored method is to threaten to ruin your credit score

Debt collectors know that most people value their credit score and would hate to see it dragged down, as it could affect their ability to do things such as getting a car or a home. Hence they may threaten that if you don’t hand over a large sum of money now, they’ll report you to a consumer reporting agency.

They are entitled to report you, but not straight away

They must abide by the rules set out in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA):

  • They need to provide basic information such as who sent them, how much you owe and what it is for
  • They can only do this by phone, post or email (knocking at your door does not count)
  • You get 14 days to reply
  • They need to try again if their letter returns to sender or the email address they have for you bounces

They cannot threaten you

Whether it’s a physical threat or a threat to sue you, they cannot do this. Of course, not all debt collectors will abide by those rules. If you have concerns about debt collectors, seek legal help to verify the legality of their actions and examine your options.

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