Many consumers are not aware of their rights under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Knowing this, many debt collectors choose to use illegal tactics in their attempts to try to coerce consumers into paying on their alleged debt(s).
1) Not having been provided you with the ‘Mini-Miranda’
In the first communication with you, the debt collector has to tell you that it is a debt collector, attempting to collect on a debt, and that any information obtained will be used for that purpose. In all communications with you, a debt collector has to tell you that it is a debt collector. If the debt collector does not do so in either case, the debt collector may be violating your rights.
2) Alerting third parties unrelated to the alleged debt:
Many times a debt collector discloses the fact that they are a debt collector, or that they are attempting to collect on a debt, to a third party who is not related to the alleged debt; without your consent. This person could be your friend, a neighbor, your son or daughter, and/or anyone other than your spouse (who they actually can disclose the debt to) who is not responsible for the alleged debt. If a debt collector makes an improper disclosure(s), it is violating your rights.
3) Asking a third party unrelated to the alleged debt to relay a message:
A debt collector cannot ask a third party who is unrelated to the alleged debt to relay a message to anyone, without your consent. Doing so would fall outside of what the FDCPA allows in regards to their contact with third parties who are not responsible for the alleged debt.
4) Threats to take action against you that the debt collector cannot take:
If the debt collector does not own the alleged debt, or have the right to sue you on the alleged debt, they cannot threaten to sue you in court, as they do not have the legal standing to do so. They also cannot threaten to garnish your wages themselves if they do not actually own the alleged debt, or are merely assisting the creditor with garnishment, when the creditor is the one who would do the actually garnishing. Anything a debt collector threatens to do to you, they must actually be able to act on.
Continuing to call you after you have already told the debt collector not to:
If you or someone you know who has the authority to do so, has told a debt collector to stop calling you, they should stop calling you. They have other means by which to contact you, such as regular U.S. Mail. If you go a step further, and tell them in writing to cease all communications with you, they have to stop calling, emailing, and so on. You may not even owe on the alleged debt, so if you have already told them to stop calling you, or to cease all communications with you, the debt collector must listen in order to avoid violating federal law.
Lying to you and/or other misleading communications directed to you:
A debt collector must be completely upfront and honest with you. Anything that might be considered a lie or misleading could be a violation of your rights under federal law, such as telling you that your student loans cannot be consolidated or discharged via bankruptcy, when in actuality they can be, or their telling you that you have no other option but to work with them, when there might in fact be other options available to you.
Swearing at you and using other offensive and verbally abusive language:
A debt collector cannot swear at you, or use other language that might demean you or be verbally abusive.
Continuing to call you at inconvenient times:
A debt collector cannot call you at times that it knows or should know to be inconvenient. The FDCPA states that they should not call you before 8 a.m., or after 9 p.m. Any calls in violation of that violate your federal rights. It is also illegal for a debt collector to call you after you have told them it would inconvenience you for them to continue to call you at a certain specific time or time period, such as calls while you are working, or when you are just generally busy, and so on.