What Are the Rules Regulating Debt Collectors in the United States?

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act forbids debt collectors to harass, abuse or deceive consumers when attempting to collect debts, reports the Federal Trade Commission. The law restricts when and where collectors can contact consumers and limits their interactions with third parties not directly concerned with the debt. Within five days of initial contact, the collectors must inform consumers of creditors' names, how much they owe and how to dispute the debts.

Debt collectors can only call consumers between eight in the morning and nine at night, and they cannot call workplaces if consumers forbid them either orally or in writing, explains the Federal Trade Commission. Collectors cannot threaten consumers with violence, arrest or legal action they are not planning to take. They cannot misrepresent themselves as lawyers, government representatives or employees of credit reporting companies. They cannot accuse consumers of committing crimes or attempt to collect any fees or expenses other than the debts themselves.

Debt collectors can only contact third parties once to request contact information of the consumers they are attempting to locate, points out the Federal Trade Commission. If an attorney represents the consumer, the collector must contact the attorney only. If consumers send written requests asking debt collectors to stop contacting them, the debt collectors must comply. Consumers can report debt collection violations to the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and their state attorney generals.