A dozen things that debt collectors are not allowed to do with respect to consumer debts.  Debt collectors include collection agencies, collection lawyers, and debt buyers.

1. Inform third parties that a debt is owed.  This includes leaving voicemail messages on a voicemail or answering machine that is used by someone other than the debtor or the debtor’s husband or wife.

2. Contact a consumer after they are notified they are represented by an attorney. (This is one of the benefits of hiring an attorney to deal with debt collectors.)

3. Contact a consumer at their place of employment when the collector is informed that the employer prohibits such communications.

4. Continue to contact a consumer after the consumer has notified them in writing to stop all communications or that the refuse to pay. Note that a consumer does not have a legal right to  instruct  a debt collector to contact them only in writing, but that either oral or written instructions not to use automated equipment or a recorded v0ice to call a cell phone are legally  effective.

5. Falsely represent that they are affiliated with the United States, state, or local government.

6. Threaten you with jail if you don’t pay your debt.

7. Threaten you with any other action they are not legally entitled to perform or don’t intend to perform.

8. Misrepresent that they are an attorney.

9. Fail to tell you in any communication they are attempting to collect a debt or that they are debt collectors.  This includes voicemail messages.

10. Attempt to collect any amount not authorized by a legally-enforceable agreement. For example, attempts to enforce usurious internet payday loans made by unlicensed lenders violate this prohibition.

11. Accept or solicit a check dated more than 5 days in advance without providing 3 business days written notice of intent to deposit it.

12. Fail to send a “debt validation notice” within 5 days of the initial communication. The notice must accurately state:

a. the amount of the debt,

b. the name of the creditor to whom the debt is currently owed,

c. that you have the right to dispute the debt,

d. that if you dispute the debt in writing within 30 days verification will be provided, and

e. that you have the right to receive the name and address of the original creditor if not the same as the current creditor.