Collection agencies are companies whose job is to get people to pay their bills. They are usually very aggressive in trying to collect debt because they keep part of whatever money they collect.
Collection agencies have to follow the rules in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) when they contact you. They can call you and send letters demanding payment or threatening to sue you. But they cannot force you to pay. They can only repeat these methods in attempt to force you to make payment with hopes of never hearing from them again.
Under the FDCPA, collection agencies and creditors must give you a written notice of what you owe. The notice must show the amount owed and the name of the creditor. The collection agencies must give you notice within 5 days of initial contact. The notice must also tell you that you can challenge or dispute the debt, or request written proof that the debt exists.
The collection company cannot:
- Call, write, or contact you in the future, if you tell the agency in writing that
- You cannot pay the debt;
- You will not pay the debt; and
- That the debt collection agency should stop contacting you
- Use obscene language
- Threaten to harm your reputation or your property
- Harass you or your family on the phone
- Falsely claim to be a lawyer
- Use of postcards or envelopes which indicate the company contacting you is a debt collection agency
- Contact persons other than you about your debt
If a collection agency does any of these things, you may file a complaint against them with the following groups:
Federal Trade Commission
55 W. Monroe St., Suite 1825
Chicago, IL 60603
State of Illinois Office of the Attorney General Consumer Protection Division
100 W. Randolph St., 13th floor
Chicago, IL 60601
You can also file a lawsuit in federal court.