How to Handle Abusive Debt Collectors

The debt collection industry is one of the most complained-about industries to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).  This is because, despite the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), which regulates debt collection activities and behavior, too many debt collectors are poorly trained and informed and work in an industry with a very high turnover rate. 

Another reason debt collectors use abusive and illegal tactics against debtors is  that most debt collectors know they will get away with their illegal tactics and behavior because (1) most consumers are uninformed about debt collection laws; (2) it's hard to prove the behavior occurred and its hard to prosecute it; and (3) there is a legal loophole in the law that allows debt collection agencies who get into trouble to simply close their current operation and create a new company and identity, and thus avoid any existing injunctions and continue to operate in the same manner.

What should you do if a debt collector is intimidating or harassing you? 

(1)  Find out if the collector is violating the FDCPA or your state's laws.  If so, send the collector a certified letter, return receipt requested, telling them that you believe he is in violation of the FDCPA or your state's laws; and, if you want

(2)  Tell the debt collector you want him to stop phoning you at home and at work.

(3) You can file a complaint online at  The FTC is the body in charge of regulating debt collection agencies.  They will not handle your case personally, but you should report the agency anyway, since they will sanction the agency if it receives enough complaints from consumers.

(4) Report the activity to your State Attorney General's office.  They will investigate the matter. 

(5)  You can also gather evidence by recording phone conversations with the debt collection agency. If you can prove the debt collector used illegal tactics, you can sue for damages under the FDCPA.

Sample letters are available in our Debt Settlement section.

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