Debt Collection Harassment

Wondering if a debt collector is paying any attention to debt recovery laws? I help people stop illegal debt collection harassment and abuse.

The Laws Are On Your Side

State and federal laws, such as the Washington State Collection Agency Act and the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), protect consumers against the unfair or coercive practices of bill collectors.

If a collection agency is calling you repeatedly or at inappropriate times of day or threatens you, the actions of that bill collector are probably bad enough to be against the law. You should contact a consumer protection attorney to help you understand your rights against these collectors and work to stop the harassment. You don't have to put up with debt collector abuse.

Are You Being Threatened?

People who owe debts are not "bad" people just because they owe debts, no matter what harsh or rude things a bill collector or collection agency might tell you over the phone. Debt is not criminal, and a bill collector may not threaten you with jail time.

Maybe you are receiving scary letters in the mail that say you owe money, but you don't owe the debt, the amount is suddenly higher, or it was so long ago you can hardly remember it. Or, perhaps your wages are being garnished for some debt and you know that there's never been a court judgment against you. Even if it is a creditor (not a collection agency) who is after you, in certain specific circumstances, their tactics to collect the debt may still violate state or federal law. Want to learn more? Read more about the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act on the FTC website. Read the Washington State Collection Agency Act, RCW 19.16, here.

The Debt Collector's Responsibility Toward You

If a debt collector is telling you that you owe money, the law requires them to send you — within five days of their first contact with you — the following information in writing:

  • The amount of the debt
  • To whom the debt is owed
  • A statement that you have 30 days to send a written dispute and request the name of the original creditor

The collector must also tell you that they must obtain verification of the debt if you send a written dispute, and stop trying to collect it to you until the debt is verified. You have a right to know why the bill collectors are after you.

If you have any issues like these, call the Law Office of SaraEllen Hutchison, PLLC, at 888-339-3942.

I am a member of NACA, the National Association of Consumer Advocates.