Generally speaking, a debt collector (including creditors and attorneys collecting the debt) cannot:

  1. Call you at work about your debt.
  2. Leave a message for people at work or at home to have you call them back.
  3. Call others about your debt.
  4. Tell anyone else that the collector is trying to collect a debt from you.
  5. Leave a message on an answering machine without saying that the collector is trying to collect a debt; he must leave his name and his company.
  6. Sue or even threaten to sue on a debt that you have not made a payment on for more than four years (CA – other states differ).
  7. Say or imply anything about arrest, going to jail, or the like.
  8. Threaten to sue you when the collector has no intention of doing so.  This is usually proven by the collector giving a deadline that passes without filing suit.
  9. Threaten to garnish your wages without first explaining to you that a lawsuit must first be filed and get a judgment obtained.
  10. Say or imply anything about taking cars, furniture, or any other property and putting liens against your property.
  11. Sue you on the debt except a) where you live now; or b) where you entered into the debt agreement.
  12. Embarrass you by saying things like: “You are a deadbeat; why don’t you pay your bills; you are a disgrace; why don’t you get rid of your spending spouse,” and other abusive comments.
  13. Use profane language or make abusive comments.
  14. Shout, scream, or get angry with you.
  15. Give the impression that the caller or his company has some connection with the government, the courts, the police, etc.
  16. Try to collect the wrong amount: this includes adding small fees; insurance; interest; late charges, etc.
  17. Threaten to deposit a post-dated check, particularly when the collector knows you do not have the money to cover the check.  Typical situation: “Give us a check to stop the calls and we will hold it.”
  18. Call you repeatedly.  A call a week is OK.  More than one call a week can be harassment.  Certainly more than one call in the same day is an abusive, particularly if you hang up and the collector calls right back.
  19. Call you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., your local time.
  20. Call you after you write a letter to the collector’s company telling them not to call you.
  21. Call you after you write a letter to the collector’s company telling them not to call you.
  22. Call you or anyone else (looking for you), after the collector knows you have an attorney.
  23. Ask you to pay more than you owe.
  24. Ask you to pay interest, fees, or expenses that are not allowed by law.
  25. Call repeatedly or continuously.
  26. Use obscene, profane, or abusive language.
  27. Call at times the collector knew or should know are inconvenient.
  28. Use or threaten to use violence if you don’t pay the debt.
  29. Threaten action they cannot or will not take.
  30. Illegally inform a third party about your alleged debt.
  31. Repeatedly call a third party to get your location information.



Hyde & Swigart has helped thousands of consumers in Colorado, Minnesota, Arizona, California and Texas with their legal issues, and we have never seen two cases that were identical. We also have attorneys who have helped consumers in Florida, Michigan, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Wisconsin, Washington, and Washington, D.C. You should never assume your situation is the same as something that is described on this web site, or that you read elsewhere on the Internet. Each situation is unique, and in our opinion, each situation needs to be thoroughly and independently reviewed by a competent consumer rights attorney. While we are happy to do that for you for free, we cannot do that solely on this web site. Even our evaluation forms are mere starting points. You should never assume your case, your situation, or your set of facts, are covered in their entirety by this web site. If you have questions about your potential case, we will be glad to discuss them with you at no charge. However, do not act, or fail to act, simply because of something you read or see on this web site. Click here to read more.