When you are contacted by a debt collector, they are not allowed to ID themselves as anything but who they really are; debt collectors. They are not lawyers, they are not the police or the local county sheriff. We have legislation that prevents these collectors from being dishonest. These laws are put into place to prevent debt collectors from forcing consumers into paying something fraudulent or too old to collect.
False impersonation of a government official
Often, collectors will use whatever illegal tactics they can think of to force someone to pay a debt. Collectors have falsely claimed to be the police, FBI, attorneys, or even the State’s Attorney General’s office when they have made contact with a debtor.
Think of it this way, why would the local sheriff’s office collect debt? Why would the State Department collect debt? Debt collection is just debt collection; pure and simple. If you are contacted by a collection agency who states they are from any legal office, get their name and phone number, hang up and contact your State’s Attorney General’s office and the Federal Trade Commission.
Section 807 False or misleading representations
A debt collector may not use any false, deceptive, or misleading representation or means in connection with the collection of any debt. Without limiting the general application of the foregoing, the following conduct is a violation of this section:
(1) The false representation or implication that the debt collector is vouched for, bonded by, or affiliated with the United States or any State, including the use of any badge, uniform, or facsimile thereof.
Falsely stating they are calling from an Attorney’s Office
Remember, debt collectors are debt collectors. Period. If you receive a phone call from someone trying to collect a debt, and they tell you they are calling from a law firm; get their “law firms” name, the return phone number and the name of the debtor who is calling you. After you receive this, hang up the phone and do your own research. Ninety nine percent of the time, this is false and a violation of your rights. Do not allow these collectors scare you into paying. There are red flags if they are calling you and threatening lawsuit and wage garnishment. This is only a scare tactic they use to force consumers into paying a debt that either is invalid or out of statute of limitation. If you make a payment on a debt that is out of statute of limitation, you will renew the debt and give that agency more time to collect it.
Section 807 False or misleading representations
(2) The false representation of —
(A) the character, amount, or legal status of any debt; or
(B) any services rendered or compensation which may be lawfully received by any debt collector for the collection of a debt.
(3) The false representation or implication that any individual is an attorney or that any communication is from an attorney.
No. You will not go to jail for an unpaid debt. Especially in today’s day of government shutdown of businesses for the common cold. However; if you are served (more on this topic later) a summons on a debt, and you do not show to court, the judge could then put an arrest warrant out for you. If you are served a summons, make sure you go to court. State your claim and make sure you request that the company suing you has the proper validation of debt including a contract or agreement showing your signature.
(4) The representation or implication that nonpayment of any debt will result in the arrest or imprisonment of any person or the seizure, garnishment, attachment, or sale of any property or wages of any person unless such action is lawful and the debt collector or creditor intends to take such action.
If you are a victim of illegal debt collector harassment
To stop the harassment quickly, write a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission, and your State’s Attorney General’s office. In your letter, write the details of the conversation between you and the collection agency, and give the name of the collector who contacted you. When you send this letter to the FTC and Attorney General, send a copy of the letter to the collection agency as well. Mail everything certified so you have tacking on your letters. The letter you are going to mail to the collection agency, add the statement “you request they cease all collection activities”. If the debt collector contacts you after they receive your letter; which you will have a record of because of the return receipt you will receive back; they are in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Make sure you keep a record of every time you are contacted. Write down the name of the collector who contacted you, the date and time of the call.