Liz Crenshaw's Guide to Consumer Issues, Recalls and More

Debt Collector Rules

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    NEWSLETTERS

    (Published Monday, Apr 28, 2014)

    If you're being contacted by a debt collector, federal debt collection rules are in place to protect consumers. The rules are in place whether you owe the money, the debt is not yours or if the collector is running a scam.

    Rule #1: no threats. A legitimate collector will not be threatening you with arrest, will not be threatening you to lose your job.

    Rule #2: no immediate financial information. If the collector is right away pressing you for sensitive financial information that’s another big red flag.

    Rule #3: get it in writing. Ask for a validation notice. The collector must send you a letter within 5 business days of that first call detailing the debt.

    Rule #4: check the debt out. Call the original creditor – see if the debt is in fact legitimate. See if that collector has the right to collect it.

    Rule #5: write back. If the debt isn't yours, within 30 days, inform the collector in writing. Also, state that he or she must stop contacting you.

    For more information and if you think a collector has broken the law, tell the Federal Trade Commission.