The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is a federal law which regulates the activities of those who regularly collect debts from others. Many states have adopted similar laws regulating the practices of debt collectors. Under this law, debt collectors may contact debtors by mail, in person, by telephone, or by telegram during “convenient hours” (commonly between 8 AM and 9 PM). Debt collectors are prohibited from contacting the debtor at work if the collector knows or has reason to know that the employer forbids employees from being contacted by debt collectors at the workplace. Finally, debt collectors may not contact individuals who are represented by an attorney.
Additional provisions specify that debt collectors may not threaten violence, use obscene or profane language, repeatedly telephone to annoy or harass, make collect telephone calls, or use false or misleading information in an effort to collect the debt. Consumers who believe this law has been violated may contact the regulating body, which is the Federal Trade Commission. Consumers also have the option of filing a lawsuit against the debt collector for violation of the law.