Debt collection laws in Colorado

Here are your rights in Colorado if debt collectors come knocking

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Colorado residents have plenty of legal protections when it comes to debt collection activities in the state, including the right to put an end to calls and visits from debt collectors altogether. Debt collection laws that apply also limit what bill collectors can and cannot do, including prohibiting them from using profane language or threats in their communications.

If you're dealing with debt in collections and you live in Colorado, you should know which laws protect you, exactly which activities they limit and steps you can take if someone violates your rights. This guide will explain how debt collection laws in Colorado can benefit you, what these laws include and how long you can be taken to court for unpaid debts in the state.

Key insights

  • A federal law called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act limits what bill collectors can do to collect unpaid bills.
  • The state of Colorado also has the Colorado Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which offers similar protections to residents.
  • Colorado residents have the right to sue bill collectors who violate their rights under both federal and state law.
  • The statute of limitations in Colorado is six years for most consumer debts.

Federal debt collection laws

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal debt collection law that affords all Americans certain rights when unpaid debts are being pursued by bill collectors.

This act prohibits debt collectors from using deceptive or abusive debt collection practices, such as contacting you at odd hours, calling you repeatedly or making false threats regarding legal actions they plan to take. Debt collectors are also barred from revealing the existence of unpaid debts to other parties, both on social media and through direct forms of communication.

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the FDCPA requires debt collectors to contact your attorney instead of reaching out to you personally if you have legal representation already in place.

Also, note that the FDCPA lets you stop all contact from debt collectors by informing them in writing that you do not want to receive communications any longer. If the debt collector continues its communications, you can sue them under the FDCPA and receive coverage of your legal fees as well as damages.

» MORE: How to handle bill collectors

Colorado debt collection laws

The state of Colorado has its own debt collection law called the Colorado Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (CFDCPA). This law applies to debt collection agencies, debt buyers and other third parties that participate in debt collection activities — but it does not apply to original creditors that are trying to collect their unpaid bills.

Debt collection practices

Many of the protections afforded under the CFDCPA duplicate similar protections in the federal debt collection law. For example, state law in Colorado prohibits debt collectors from using harassment or threats, from misleading you about your debts and from participating in unfair practices.

The law also says that bill collectors cannot disclose your unpaid debts to third parties in any way, whether through social media or other communications.

The CFDCPA also outlaws:

  • Collecting or trying to collect more money than you owe or the creditor agreement permits
  • Threatening to deposit a postdated check before the date it should be deposited
  • Taking (or threatening to take) your property without legal authority
  • Contacting you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. without permission
  • Contacting you at work if they know or have a reason to know your workplace bans these communications

Like with the FDCPA, Colorado law also ensures you can stop all debt collection contact by notifying bill collectors in writing that you want to stop all communications.

Licensing and registration

State law in Colorado requires Colorado debt collectors to be licensed to solicit, collect on debts or even attempt to collect on debts. The CFDCPA also mandates that bill collectors post a bond to pay the amount owed to the creditor they work for and are trying to collect for.

Statute of limitations

In the state of Colorado, the statute of limitations for consumer debts is six years. This rule applies to various types of debt, including credit card debt, personal loan debt, auto loan debt and more.

However, this statute running out does not mean you no longer owe the money. It only means that Colorado bill collectors can no longer pursue legal action against you to collect a debt.

Required notices to debtors

Debt collectors are required to send you additional information, known as validation information, within five days of their initial contact. This notice should come in a written form and it must include specific information about the debt you owe.

For example, this notice needs to include:

  • A statement that the communication is from a debt collector
  • Name and mailing information of the debt collector
  • Name of the creditor(s) you owe the debt to
  • Account number(s) associated with the debt
  • Full amounts owed, including interest, fees and credits for payments already made
  • Details on how to reply to the debt collector
  • Explanation that you have 30 days to formally dispute the debt

Consumer rights for disputing debts

Once you receive this validation information from a bill collector, you have 30 days to dispute the debt in writing if you believe it's incorrect or not even yours. Debt collectors must then pause their debt collection activities until they have responded to the dispute. They can do this by sending a copy of the original bill or other proof of the debt.

If you fail to formally dispute all or part of a debt within 30 days, bill collectors can assume the debt is valid and continue with their collection activities.

Enforcement and penalties

Colorado residents can sue bill collectors for violating their rights under both federal and state law. Whether suing debt collectors for unfair or deceptive practices under the FDCPA or the CFDCPA, you may be able to recover financial damages.

Under the FDCPA specifically, you may be awarded $1,000 in damages, additional funds for harm caused by debt collection activities, lawyer fees and court costs. Lawsuits under the FDCPA must be filed within one year of the violation.

» MORE: How to get out of debt

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    How long before a debt becomes uncollectible in Colorado?

    The statute of limitations for debt in Colorado is six years. This doesn't mean debt is uncollectible, but it does mean bill collectors can no longer pursue legal action in court.

    Can I be sued for unpaid bills in Colorado?

    You can be sued for most unpaid bills in Colorado for up to six years.

    Can wages be garnished for unpaid bills in Colorado?

    Colorado debt collectors can have your wages garnished for unpaid consumer debts like credit card debt and personal loan debt with a court order. However, they have to sue you and win in court first.

    Bottom line

    Colorado residents have both federal and state debt collection laws working in their favor. Both laws protect against deceptive and unfair practices, constant phone calls or visits, and harassment and threats. These laws also make it possible for you to bring collection calls to a halt when the pressure becomes overwhelming.

    Since stopping collection calls won't make your debt go away, this isn't a long-term solution. If you're struggling with debt, it may be time to speak with a credit counseling agency, a bankruptcy attorney or another third party for help.

    Article sources
    ConsumerAffairs writers primarily rely on government data, industry experts and original research from other reputable publications to inform their work. Specific sources for this article include:
    1. Federal Trade Commission, "Fair Debt Collection Practices Act." Accessed Dec. 18, 2023.
    2. Federal Trade Commission, "Fair Debt Collection Practices Act." Accessed Dec. 18, 2023.
    3. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, "Can debt collectors tell other people, like family, friends, or my employer, about my debt?" Accessed Dec. 18, 2023.
    4. The Office of the Attorney General, "Collection Agency." Accessed Dec. 18, 2023.
    5. Law Office of Clark Daniel Dray, "Dealing with Debt Collectors." Accessed Dec. 18, 2023.
    6. BX Bond Exchange, "Colorado Collection Agency Bond: A Comprehensive Guide." Accessed Dec. 18, 2023.
    7. Robinson & Henry, P.C. Attorneys at Law, "Statute of limitations." Accessed Dec. 18, 2023.
    8. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, "What information does a debt collector have to give me about a debt they’re trying to collect from me?" Accessed Dec. 18, 2023.
    9. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, "What is harassment by a debt collector?" Accessed Dec. 18, 2023.
    10. Berken Cloyes, PC, "Wage Garnishments." Accessed Dec. 18, 2023.
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