It is important to understand what a collection agency can and cannot do because most of theses agencies cross-the-line and at times even break the law. According to the Attorney General, the first time a collection agency contacts you, it must give its name and address, and the name of the original creditor (the business or person you owe money to). It must also tell you in writing the amount of the debt and any fees that have been added, such as interest or collection fees.
If you are having financial hardship, contact our bankruptcy attorneys by calling (916) 971-8880. You must also be informed of your right to dispute the information.
According to the Attorney Generals Office, the list below includes most actions of what collection agencies cannot do:
- A collection agency cannot call or write to you more than three times a week. And only one of those calls can be at work.
- They are prohibited from calling you between 9 pm and 8 am;
- A collection agency cannot harass, intimidate, threaten, or embarrass you;
- A collection agency cannot threaten violence, criminal prosecution, or use offensive language; and
- If you send a written statement requesting a collection agency to stop, it cannot continue to call or write to you to demand payment.
- If you have an attorney, the law prohibits a collection agency from contacting anyone other than your attorney. If you do not have an attorney, the agency can contact other people only to find out where you live or work. The collector cannot tell these people that you owe money. In most cases, the collection agency can contact another person only once. These same rules apply to contact with your employer.
- A collection agency cannot publish lists of people who owe money;
- A collection agency cannot use a badge or uniform of a law enforcement agency or claim to be from a government agency;
- A collection agency cannot use documents which look like court or government documents, telegrams, or emergency messages;
- A collection agency cannot make collect phone calls or send collect telegrams;
- A collection agency cannot violate postal regulations;
- A collection agency cannot threaten to add charges that aren’t legal, for example, an interest rate higher than the rate in the original contract;
- A collection agency cannot garnish your wages or take your home or possessions without a court judgment; however, an exception exists for federally guaranteed student loans that are in default. A federal law provides for an administrative garnishment up to 15% of the debtor’s pay;
- A collection agency cannot or threaten to have a debtor put in jail for bad debt.