Debt Collection and Creditor Harassment Abuse Laws

Creditor and debt collection laws (federal and state) are designed to stop the abuse and harassment from collection agents and employees of creditors trying to collect debts. This section of the FDCPA outlines illegal tactics such as threats, obscene, profane, or abusive language and telephone calls designed to scare you into paying a debt right away!

If you are a victim of unfair or illegal debt collection tactics, the debt collector may just be liable to you for statutory damages of to $1,000, plus any actual damages suffered, plus attorney fees!

  1. What is harassment and abuse – 806
  2. Threat of violence is illegal – 806(1)
  3. Obscene, profane, or abusive language prohibited – 806(2)
  4. Publication of a list of debtors prohibited 806(3)
  5. Advertise debt to coerce payment prohibited – 806(4)
  6. Repeatedly calling you by telephone is harassment – 806(5)
  7. Calling without meaningful disclosure or legal purpose- 806(6)

1. Section 806 prohibits a debt collector from any conduct that would “harass, oppress, or abuse any person in connection with the collection of a debt.” It provides six examples of harassment or abuse, section 806 (1) – 806 (6) below.


1. Prohibited actions are not limited to the six subsections listed below as [53 Fed. Reg. 50105] examples of activities that violate this provision.

2. Unnecessary calls to third parties. A debt collector may not leave telephone messages with neighbors when the debt collector knows the consumer’s name and telephone number and could have reached him directly.

3. Multiple contacts with consumer. A debt collector may not engage in repeated personal contacts with a consumer with such frequency as to harass him. Subsection (5) deals specifically with harassment by multiple phone calls.

4. Abusive conduct. A debt collector may not pose a lengthy series of questions or comments to the consumer without giving the consumer a chance to reply. Subsection (2) deals specifically with harassment involving obscene, profane, or abusive language.

2. Section 806(1) prohibits the “use or threat of use of violence or other criminal means to harm . . . any person.”

1. Implied threat. A debt collector may violate this section by an implied threat of violence. For example, a debt collector may not pressure a consumer with statements such as “We’re not playing around here–we can play tough” or “We’re going to send somebody to collect for us one way or the other.”

3. Section 806(2) prohibits the use of obscene, profane, or abusive language.

Abusive language includes religious slurs, profanity, obscenity, calling the consumer a liar or a deadbeat, and the use of racial or sexual epithets.

4. Section 806(3)

Prohibits the “publication of a list of consumers who allegedly refuse to pay debts,” except to report the items to a “consumer reporting agency,” as defined in the Fair Credit Reporting Act or to a party otherwise authorized to receive it under that Act.

5. Section 806(4) prohibits the “advertisement for sale of any debt to coerce payment of the debt.”

1. Shaming prohibited. These provisions are designed to prohibit debt collectors from “shaming” a customer into payment, by publicizing the debt.

2. Exchange of lists. Debt collectors may not exchange lists of consumers who allegedly refuse to pay their debts.

3. Information to creditor subscribers. A debt collector may NOT distribute a list of alleged debtors to its creditor subscribers.

4. Coded lists. A debt collector that publishes a list of consumers who have had bad debts, coded to avoid generally disclosing the consumer’s identity (e.g., showing only the drivers license number and first three letters of each consumer’s name) does not violate this provision, because such publication is permitted under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

5. List for use by investigator. A debtor collector does not violate these provisions by providing a list of consumers against whom judgments have been entered to a private investigator in order to locate such individuals, because section 805(b) specifically permits contacts “reasonably necessary to effectuate a post-judgment judicial remedy.”

6. Public notice required by law. A debt collector does not violate these provisions by providing public notices that are required by law as a prerequisite to enforcement of a security interest in connection with a debt.

6. Section 806(5) prohibits contacting the consumer by telephone “repeatedly or continuously with intent to annoy, abuse, or harass any person at the called number.”

1. Multiple phone calls. “Continuously” means making a series of telephone calls, one right after the other. “Repeatedly” means calling with excessive frequency under the circumstances.

7. Section 806(6) prohibits, except where section 804 applies, “the placement of telephone calls without meaningful disclosure of the caller’s identity.”

1. Aliases. A debt collector employee’s use of an alias that permits identification of the debt collector (i.e., where he uses the alias consistently, and his true identity can be ascertained by the employer) constitutes a “meaningful disclosure of the caller’s identity.”

2. Identification of caller. An individual debt collector must disclose his employer’s identity, when discussing the debt on the telephone with consumers or third parties permitted by section 805(b).

3. Relation to other sections. A debt collector who uses a false business name in a phone call to conceal his identity violates section 807(14), as well as this section.

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  1. lauren hemedinger says

    Repeated calls threatening court action for a family member. All of us by the name Hemedinger are getting these calls and we cannot stop them?

    • says

      Thank you for your question. Do you know the company that is calling? Have you asked them to stop? You may have experienced a Fair Debt violation(s), the Debt Help Lawyers at this site can provide you a free, no obligation Fair Debt consultation. Call us at 888-595-9111 and we’ll get you taken care of.

  2. traci says

    I have a friend that because of medical reasons has been behind on some bills but has done her best to keep up. She one bill that she called and talked to them and they said they would send her some kind paper work to lower said medical bill. she never received them. they said they sent them 4 times. they told her to check with her mailman. she has lived in this house for over 50 years and has never had trouble getting her mail.

    So needless to say they sent her to collections and she had a phone call this morning that was very upsetting!!!

    my question is can a collection company go in and see how many credits cards you have and check your credit rating?

    just so we are clear she has 1 credit card that is being used for things like oil in her furnace type of emergency and nothing else. just wondering if they can tell her also to take a lone out when she is only able to work 20 hours a week do to that same injury?

    can they demand she take a lone out or use her credit card? and can they find out how many credit cards you have and your credit rating?

    Thank you!!!!!

    • says

      A collection company will usually pull a credit report when collecting on a debt. The FCRA- Fair Credit Reporting Act, considers this a legitimate business purpose.
      Beyond that though you have mentioned several other points that are a concern and depending on the details may be a violation of her consumer rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
      The Debt Help Lawyers at this site can provide you a free, no obligation Fair Debt consultation. The worst thing to do is nothing, so call us now at 888-595-9111 and we will get started figuring our how to help you!

  3. judy horton says

    A debt collector left my husband a message on his voice mail telling him to” just go to hell”. I phoned to confront them and after stumbling he started trying to tell me WHY he was contacting my husband. I told him I didn’t care WHY and that he had violated my husband’s rights and that we are reporting them. What is my next step?

    • says

      Save the voice mail and give us a call, you may have experienced a Fair Debt violation(s), the Debt Help Lawyers at this site can provide you a free, no obligation Fair Debt consultation. Call us now at 888-595-9111 and we will get started figuring out how to help you!

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