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Florida residents with spotty credit histories may find their debts have been turned over to debt collection agencies who try various methods to get the debt repaid. Some of their methods can definitely be annoying if not outright illegal. Below is information about creditor harassment some may find helpful. When can debt collectors contact me? According to provisions of the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, those attempting to collect a debt are restricted from contacting debtors between the hours of 9 p.m. and 8 a.m. unless the debtor has waived that right. The act only covers those in the debt collection business and doesn’t apply to those working in a creditor’s debt collection office. Does the FDCPA bar a debt collector from engaging in certain behaviors? Yes. Those collecting debts may not use misleading or false statements to collect money and may not claim to be a lawyer or representative from the government or work for a credit reporting agency. They are not allowed to threaten or annoy the debtor with repeated phone calls or use profanity. They are not allowed to tell debtors that non-payment of their debts will result in their arrest. Unless it is specifically permitted by law, a collector cannot threaten to garnish wages or sell off their property. Is it helpful to speak to debt collection agents about my debt? No laws require a debtor to speak with a collector, and debtors may prevent future contact by communicating in writing that the debt collector should cease all communication. After that point, collectors may only contact debtors to inform them that all contact will end or that the creditor or collector intends to sue them over the debt. Can debt collection agencies add interest to the original debt? Yes, under certain circumstances, but state law determines the maximum interest a collector may charge. Communicating with collection agencies can sometimes resolve your unpaid debts. Failing that, filing for Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy remains an option. Source: FindLaw, “FAQs: How to Deal with Debt Collection Agencies” Aug. 13, 2014