There are a number of debt-collection practices prohibited by law. They include:
Harassment and abuse:
The use or threats or violence;
The use of obscene or profane language;
The publication of a list of consumers who allegedly refuse to pay debts, except to a consumer reporting agency or others with a legitimate need to know;
The advertisement for sale of any debt to coerce payment of the debt;
Causing a telephone to ring or engaging any person in telephone conversation repeatedly or continuously with intent to annoy, abuse, or harass any person at the called number;
The placement of telephone calls without meaningful disclosure of the caller's identity.
False or misleading representations. Debt collectors may not:
Falsely imply that they are attorneys or government representatives;
Falsely imply that you have committed a crime;
Falsely represent that they operate or work for a credit bureau;
Misrepresent the amount of your debt;
Indicate that papers being sent to you are legal forms when they are not; or indicate that papers being sent to you are not legal forms when they are;
Claim that you will be arrested if you do not pay your debt;
Say that they will seize, garnish, attach, or sell your property or wages, unless the collection agency or creditor intends to do so, and it is legal to do so; or
Claims that actions, such as a lawsuit, will be taken against you, when such action legally may not be taken, or when they do not intend to take such action.
Give false credit information about you to anyone, including a credit bureau;
Send you anything that looks like an official document from a court or government agency when it is not; or
Use a false name.
Unfair practices. Collectors may not:
Collect any amount greater than you owe, unless your state law permits a special charge for such collections;
Deposit a post-dated check prematurely;
Use deception to make you accept collect calls or pay for telegrams;
Take or threaten to take your property unless this can be done legally; or
Contact you by postcard.
What control do you have over payment of debts?
If you owe more than one debt, any payment you make must be applied to the debt you indicate. A debt collector may not apply a payment to any debt you believe you do not owe.