What constitutes debt collector harassment/abuse?

Most creditors work with debt collection agencies/individuals (debt collectors) to collect customers’ debts. Debt collectors are required by law to observe fair practices. They should not harass, oppress or abuse you.

This guide discusses what constitutes debt collector harassment or abuse:

Repetitive phone calls

A debt collector can call to remind you to pay your debt or follow up on an agreement you probably had with them the previous time they called you. But the phone calls should not be repetitive with the intention to annoy, harass or abuse you.

Calling at unreasonable hours, if you haven’t permitted them to do so, may also be harassment. Generally, debt collectors are prohibited from calling before 8 a.m. and after 9 p.m.

The court can use the frequency, pattern and hours of phone calls and voicemails from a debt collector to assess if harassment occurred.

Obscene language

A debt collector should be respectful when speaking with you. The use of obscene or profane language may be harassment or abuse.


If a debt collector uses or threatens to use violence or other criminal ways to harm you, your reputation or your property, they may have harassed you.

Publication of a list of debtors

A debt collector can report the information of debtors to a credit reporting company. But it may be unlawful for them to publish a list of people who have allegedly refused to pay debts.

False or misleading representation

Some debt collectors lie about the amount of a debt or threaten to take actions that can’t legally be taken if the debtor refuses to pay. Some even lie about a debt being affiliated with the United States government or the state. This can be considered harassment or abuse.

You should get legal help to determine if you have experienced creditor harassment and know how to stop it.

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