Debt collector threatens police action over nonexistent debts
On November 1, 2016, we received a complaint from a citizen regarding an aggressive debt collector using illegal methods to collect a nonexistent debt. The citizen reported that a debt collector threatened to have felony charges pressed against her if she did not pay a debt on a payday loan. The citizen advised that she doesn’t even have any unpaid payday loans and wanted to report the incident.
She was right to be alarmed. Even if you are facing debt collection, debt collectors have no authority to arrest you. Not only do you have rights in such situations, but debt collectors have strict guidelines of conduct that they must follow. They are not allowed to:
- call you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
- contact you at work if you’ve told them verbally or in writing that your employer doesn’t allow you to get such calls in the workplace
- harass or abuse you or anyone else they contact about you
- lie about the amount you owe
- use deceptive methods to collect a debt from you. For example, they may not:
- falsely claim to be law enforcement officers
- claim that you’ll be arrested if you don’t pay your debt
- threaten to seize, garnish, attach, or sell your property or your wages — unless they are permitted by law to do it and intend to do so
- give false credit information about you to anyone, including a credit reporting company
- use a fake company name
Collectors usually are prohibited from contacting third parties more than once. Other than to obtain location information about you, a debt collector generally is not allowed to discuss your debt with anyone other than you, your spouse or your attorney.
Be sure to file a complaint with the FTC if you think that a debt collector has violated your rights.
Read more about debt collection fraud at the FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION CONSUMER INFORMATION BLOG.