Don't Let Bill Collectors Harass You, Fight Back!

Are debt collectors harrassing you? Behind in your payments? That doesn't give collectors a right to take over your life. Keep those collectors from crossing the line.

Millions of Americans have over-extended themselves through the use of credit cards. If you're one of them, rest assured, you're not alone. Now, you're afraid to pick up the phone, afraid to answer the door or look at your mail. Suddenly your entire world is upside down and it's all because of those dreaded bill collectors. Stop being afraid. You may owe the money, but believe it or not, you have rights. It's called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and it can help you dull the pain of credit collectors.

First off, realize that laws in your state may vary, but usually these rules apply. Second, be prepared to back up your claims by getting a copy of the act at And finally, understand that no matter how nasty a bill collector is, you do owe the money. These tips aren't an excuse for not paying.

1. You can stop all phone calls from a credit collector by sending them a written request to stop. Ask the caller for the name and address of the company and send a REGISTERED letter, return receipt requested. This is your proof. Remember that debts are often sold by one company to another and you'll have to do this for each company in turn.

2. A collector may not force you to pay for collect calls or telegram fees.

3. A credit card collector may not threaten to take your house, your car or threaten physical harm. This is a major violation and should be reported to your local office of the Federal Trade Commission immediately.

4. Collectors must follow certain etiquette when calling. They may only call during reasonable hours (no three a.m. calls). They may not use foul language and they may not call relatives or employers and inform them of your debt. If tape recording is legal in your state, keep one hooked up to the phone to catch such violations.

5. Don't be frightened by letters that appear to be from a lawyer. Look at the bottom and you'll usually find a statement saying that it is simply a collection agency trying to collect the debt.

Finally, if collectors are harassing you don't get angry or upset. Simply tell them that you know your rights and quote the passages that they are violating. Then ask permission to tape record the conversation so that there will be no misunderstanding. Collectors working within the law won't mind being recorded. Everyone else will hang up.

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