Most people would not like to deal with phone calls, e-mails or notices from debt collectors, but they’re more common than people might realize. Harassment by debt collectors causes intrusion into people’s personal lives, breakups families, loss of jobs and even results in personal bankruptcies. However, there are laws that can protect people from such harassment.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is a federal law that regulates debt collection practices. The act protects consumers from abusive, deceptive and unfair practices by third party debt collectors by limiting their behavior and actions. Debt owed primarily for the purposes of personal, family or household expenses are covered under this act. It does not cover debt incurred for business, corporate or agricultural purposes.

Under the act, the debt collectors cannot be abusive or intimidate the consumers in any way and are not allowed to pester the consumer or their family members or any other people the consumer knows over the phone, by mail or in person. They are not allowed to call the consumers at any odd hours, such as early in the morning or late at night, or at any place that is not convenient to the consumer. Also, they cannot communicate with consumers’ workplace if the debt collector knows that the consumer is not allowed to talk with them at work.

Under the FDCPA, a debt collector shall cease all further communication with a consumer when the consumer informs in writing about denying payment or wishes no further communication with respect to such debt. However, they may notify the consumer that the collection effort is being ceased and certain specific action, such as a lawsuit, may be pursued.

Debt collectors are prohibited from contacting consumers after they know an attorney is representing the consumer. In that case, all communication must be through the attorney. However, this can be workable only if the debt collector has contact details, such as name and contact information, of the consumer’s debt and bankruptcy attorney.