Budgeting Managing Your Debt Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) Violations By LaToya Irby LaToya Irby Facebook Twitter LaToya Irby is a credit expert who has been covering credit and debt management for The Balance for more than a dozen years. She's been quoted in USA Today, The Chicago Tribune, and the Associated Press, and her work has been cited in several books. learn about our editorial policies Updated on January 16, 2022 Reviewed by Margaret James Reviewed by Margaret James Twitter Peggy James is an expert in accounting, corporate finance, and personal finance. She is a certified public accountant who owns her own accounting firm, where she serves small businesses, nonprofits, solopreneurs, freelancers, and individuals. learn about our financial review board The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, more commonly referred to as the FDCPA, is a federal law that defines how debt collectors can act when collecting a debt from you. There are specific things a debt collector can't do. If you need to reference the law to verify whether a debt collector is acting outside the law, citations have been provided. 01 of 15 Ask You To Pay More Than You Owe OMG/Getty Images The collector cannot misrepresent the amount you owe. They can't say your balance is higher than it actually is. You're allowed to ask a third-party collection agency to send proof of the debt and the amount they're pursuing you for. Make this debt validation request in writing. 02 of 15 Ask You To Pay Interest, Fees, or Expenses That Are Not Allowed by Law The collector can't add on any extra fees or interest that your original credit or loan agreement doesn't allow. 03 of 15 Call Repeatedly or Continuously The FDCPA considers repeat calls as harassment. You can stop debt collector calls by writing and asking them to stop calling. 04 of 15 Use Obscene, Profane, or Abusive Language Using this kind of language is considered harassment. 05 of 15 Call Before 8 a.m. or After 9 p.m. Call times are based on your local time zone. Calls outside the allowed times are considered harassment. 06 of 15 Call at Times the Collector Knew or Should Have Known Are Inconvenient This might include weekends, holidays, or other times you've specifically informed the collector not to call you. Calls at inconvenient times are considered harassment. 07 of 15 Use or Threaten To Use Violence If You Don't Pay the Debt Collectors can't threaten violence against you. Threats could be breaking more than just debt collection laws. 08 of 15 Threaten Action They Cannot or Will Not Take Collectors can't threaten to sue or file charges against you, garnish wages, take property, cause job loss, or ruin your credit when the collector cannot or does not intend to take the action. 09 of 15 Illegally Inform a Third Party About Your Alleged Debt Unless you have expressly given permission, collectors are not allowed to inform anyone about your debt except: your attorneythe creditorthe creditor's attorneya credit reporting agencyyour spouseyour parent (if you are a minor) 10 of 15 Repeatedly Call a Third Party To Get Your Location Information The collector can only contact a third party once unless it has reason to believe the information previously provided is false. 11 of 15 Contact You at Work Knowing Your Employer Doesn't Approve A collector is not allowed to contact you at work if you’ve let them know your employer doesn’t approve of these calls. The collector also isn't allowed to let your employer or co-workers know that they're a debt collector. Note You can send a written cease and desist letter to stop a debt collector from calling you at work. 12 of 15 Fail To Send a Written Debt Validation Notice Within five days of the collector's initial communication, it must send you a notice include the amount of the debt, name of the creditor, and notice of your right to dispute the debt within 30 days. 13 of 15 Ignore Your Written Request To Verify the Debt and Continue To Collect A collector can't continue to collect on a debt after you've made a written request to verify the debt as long as the request was made within 30 days of the collector's written notice. 14 of 15 Continue To Collect on the Debt Before Providing Verification After receiving your written dispute, the collector must stop collecting on the debt until you have received verification. 15 of 15 Continue Collection Attempts After Receiving a Cease Communication Notice If you make a written request for the collector to cease communication, it can only contact you one more time, via mail to let you know one of the following: that further efforts to collect the debt are terminated, that certain actions may be taken by the collector, or that the collector is definitely going to take certain actions. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Federal Trade Commission. "Fair Debt Collection Practices Act § 807(2)(a)." Federal Trade Commission. "Fair Debt Collection Practices Act § 808(1)." Federal Trade Commission. "Fair Debt Collection Practices Act § 806(5)." Federal Trade Commission. "Fair Debt Collection Practices Act § 806(2)." Federal Trade Commission. "Fair Debt Collection Practices Act § 805(a)(1)." Federal Trade Commission. "Fair Debt Collection Practices Act § 806(1)." Federal Trade Commission. "Fair Debt Collection Practices Act § 807(5)." Federal Trade Commission. "Fair Debt Collection Practices Act § 805(b)." Federal Trade Commission. "Fair Debt Collection Practices Act § 804(1)." Federal Trade Commission. "Fair Debt Collection Practices Act § 805(a)(3)." Federal Trade Commission. "Fair Debt Collection Practices Act § 809(a)." Federal Trade Commission. "Fair Debt Collection Practices Act § 809(b)." Federal Trade Commission. "Fair Debt Collection Practices Act § 805(c)."