Although Minnesota debt collection agencies want debtors to pay up, they cannot use tactics outside of the legal boundaries that govern their collection activities. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, or FDCPA, is the law that regulates how these agencies may conduct themselves in the course of their business operations.
Threats, deception, and harassment
The FDCPA offers protections against abusive and illegal debt collections owed on a credit card, medical, personal, and other household debts. It prohibits harassment, threats of arrest and physical harm, and deception, i.e., pretending to be a lawyer. These agencies cannot contact you by phone before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. and may not contact you at work if you forbid them. Continuous calling and other forms of harassment are strictly impermissible by the FDCPA. However, business debt and debt collection by the original creditor are not protected by the FDCPA.
Still, the FDCPA has additional measures in place to protect consumers from vast unfair collection tactics, including depositing a post-dated check in advance of the date on the check. Deliberately identifying correspondence as that from a debt collector, except for the address, is also not allowed. Some serious violations can lead to prison time for the offenders.
What you can do
You can work with your creditor to try to repay the debt by making an arrangement that is doable for your budget. Should you need to veer from the arrangement, you can call and advise the agency. If you no longer wish for the debt collector to contact you, you can send them a letter to that effect. Educate yourself about your options and make the best choice for yourself, and always keep a record of your communications with the agency.
You can also reach out for help. There are agencies that will set up a payment plan with the creditor on your behalf. The main thing to remember is that even if you owe, you still have legal rights that protect you.