Some debt collectors perform a valuable and legitimate service and are ethical – if not always pleasant – in how they conduct themselves. Some of them are quite the opposite in every regard.

 

There are debt collectors out there who will try to harass you into paying debts that you don’t need to pay back and that, when they do have a legitimate debt, will use harassing and sometimes illegal tactics to try to get you to pay back your debt. A lot of these tactics are aimed at putting so much pressure on you that you eventually crack and just hand over your money, whether or not you really have a good reason to.

 

Here are five things that collectors might do that you can most certainly tell them to stop and that, if they continue doing, you may be able to pursue legal action against them.

 

Calling You…Constantly

 

This is really one of the nastiest things that debt collectors do and one of the things that causes people the most distress. You can fix this, even if you plan on paying off the debt. The requirements are simple: Tell them you don’t want them to contact you anymore in writing.

 

The FTC gives directions on how to do this and it’s the easiest thing imaginable. All you have to do is write them a letter, tell them that you do not want them to contact you regarding the debt and send it to them certified with a return receipt. The debt collector may contact you to let you know that they’re not going to contact you anymore or they may contact you if you’re going to be sued or some other action is going to be taken as a result of the debt. Otherwise, the phone calls are done.

 

Calling You at Work

 

If you tell a debt collector orally or by sending them a letter that they may not contact you at work, they may not contact you at work. They have no right to argue with you in this regard. As a safety measure, if a debt collector does contact you, tell them they may not contact you at work right away, even if they haven’t tried to already. Just assume they will.

 

Give You a Time Limit

 

There are no deadlines on the debts that debt collectors hold. They may tell you that there is as a way to get you to pay back right away without thinking about it, but, if they tell you that you have to pay back by a certain time or some sort of action will be taken against you, they’re just trying to scare you.

 

Threats and Harassment

 

For some types of debt, you may be liable for being sued by the lender and having your wages garnished by a court order. A debt collector, however, cannot garnish your wages, they cannot take your federal benefits and they can’t take your property on their own authority.

 

Debt collectors are prohibited from threatening to take your property unless they legally can do so. That doesn’t mean that all of them will adhere to this.

 

Debt collectors are also prohibited from telling you that you have committed some sort of a crime if that is not the case. That doesn’t mean that some of them won’t imply that you are somehow a criminal for not paying back whatever debt they claim you owe.

 

If you’re getting threats like these or other ones, there’s a very good chance that whatever they’re doing is illegal. Get as much information as you can about the debt collector calling you and report them.

 

Ruin Your Credit Rating

 

If a debt collector is calling you with a legitimate debt that’s attached to your credit rating, your credit rating is already damaged. The debt collection agency can’t do anything else to damage it beyond what’s already been done. If the debt is legitimate and you do owe it, paying it off will be one of the first things you need to do to repair your credit. Remember, some debt collectors, as was said, are ethical and, working with them might actually be advantageous in getting your credit rating better, but they can’t do anything to make it worse.

 

You’re Not Outmatched

 

You have rights. Those rights are laid out in the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which you can read at the Federal Trade Commission site. You can also report suspected violations to your state Attorney General’s office. You can also sue collections agencies for violating your rights. If you think they have, talk to a lawyer. It may turn out that they end up owing you money.