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What debt collectors cannot do according to the law

Regardless of why it exists, those who are facing down substantial debt in Pennsylvania should learn the facts about debt collection. It often seems like those who attempt to collect debt through phone calls, mail and other methods can do anything they want. It is crucial for you to know that this is not true. Like most entities, debt collectors must adhere to strict rules and guidelines in order to remain within the law.

The first thing to know is that the Federal Trade Commission, or FTC, exists to protect consumers from unfair or illegal debt collection practices. It is the primary focus of the FTC to ensure that the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, or FDCPA, is enforced.

Under the FDCPA, it is against the law for debt collectors to use abusive practices to collect any money consumers may owe. This also means collectors cannot engage in collection tactics considered to be unfair or out-and-out deceptive. As a consumer who is trying to manage your debt, knowing what collectors are not allowed to do can give you a sense of control over your life. Here are a few collection tactics that are expressly forbidden.

-- Harassment: Including threats, profanity and constant phone calls

-- Making false statements: Including falsely indentifying themselves and claiming you have committed a crime

-- Using unfair collection practices: Including adding illegal interest fees, depositing your payment early and seizing your property

This is by no means a detailed list of what is not allowed during debt collection. If you have outstanding credit card debt and feel you are at the end of your rope, consider talking with an attorney about bankruptcy or other ways to manage your debt while stopping creditor harassment.

Source: Federal Trade Commission, "Debt Collection," accessed March 15, 2016

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