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The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is designed to protect you from abuse as well as unfair and deceptive practices used by debt collectors. A debt collector is a person or party who regularly collects debts owed to another, such as a collection agency. A bankruptcy lawyer can tell you what your legal rights are in greater detail, but here are some of the basics of what a debt collector can and cannot do if you’re unable to pay your debts:

Cannot Contact You at Certain Times

Debt collectors are prohibited from contacting you at inconvenient times or places. This includes before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., unless you have agreed otherwise.

Cannot Contact You at Work

If you tell a collector that they are not allowed to contact you at work, orally or in writing, they must respect this and not contact you at your place of employment.

Can Contact Other People About Your Debt

If you are not represented by an attorney, a collector may contact other people about your debt. However, they are only allowed to ask for your address, home phone number, and where you work. Collectors cannot communicate any information about your debts and are also not allowed to contact third parties more than once.

Cannot Make Harassing or False Statements

Debt collectors are not allowed to make harassing statements, such as using threats of harm or profane language. They are also not allowed to lie when trying to collect a debt. This includes misrepresenting information about the amount you owe or falsely claiming that you have committed a crime.

Cannot Contact You if You Have An Attorney

If the collector knows that you are represented by an attorney, they must contact your attorney rather than trying to communicate with you directly.