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Tips for Consumers: Abusive debt collectors

Tips for Consumers
Abusive debt collectors

We at the BBB receive many calls from consumers in the Hagerstown area complaining about abusive bill collectors. Without doubt, debt collectors face unique challenges. Some consumers lie or invent reasons for not paying legitimate bills as they had promised to do. Collecting can be very stressful. As a result, some debt collectors may engage in abusive or even illegal conduct.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prohibits abusive debt collection practices. For a complete listing of your rights as a debtor, visit the Federal Trade Commission Web site at Here is a summary: The following collection practices are prohibited.
Collectors may NOT:
* Harass, oppress or abuse you or any third parties they contact.
* Use threats of harm.
* Publish a list of consumers who refuse to pay their debts.
* Use obscene language.
* Repeatedly use the telephone to annoy someone.
* Take or threaten to take your property unless this can be done legally.
They are also restricted in the statements they can make to debtors. Collectors may NOT tell you that:
* You will be arrested if you do not pay your debt.
* They will seize, garnish, attach or sell your property or wages, unless it is legal and the collection agency or creditor intends to do so.
* They will take actions, such as a lawsuit, against you, when such action legally may not be taken, or when they do not intend to do so.
Debt collectors may NOT:
* Give false credit information about you to anyone.
* Send you anything that looks like an official document from a court or government agency when it is not.
* Use a false name.
A debt collector is permitted to contact you in person, by mail, phone, telegram or fax. However, he or she may not contact you at inconvenient times or places (such as before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., unless you agree). And, they may not contact your place of work if the collector knows that your employer disapproves of such contacts.
If you have problems with a collector's tactics, report them to the Attorney General's office.
To check out companies before you buy, c all the BBB 24 hours a day at (410) 347-3992 or visit our web site, To file a complaint, use our web site complaint form or write us at: BBB, 1414 Key Highway, #100, Baltimore MD 21230. Perhaps we can help. Our Bureau serves Baltimore and all of Greater Maryland.

To file a complaint visit: or write: BBB, 1414 Key Highway, #100, Baltimore MD 21230. Their office serves Baltimore and all of Greater Maryland.

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