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Debt Collection

This research guide provides information about your rights under Texas and federal law when dealing with debt and debt collectors.

Contact From a Debt Collector

Can a Debt Collector Swear at Me or Threaten Me?

Both Texas and federal law prohibit debt collectors from using abuse, harassment, or threats when trying to collect a debt. The information below explains what is considered to be abuse and harassment under the law.

Likewise, debt collectors cannot lie about who they are or what they can do to get you to pay a debt. You cannot be arrested for a debt.

Texas and Federal Law

Understanding the Law

The video below from Texas Appleseed discusses some common scare tactics from debt collectors.

When Can a Debt Collector Call Me?

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prevents a debt collector from calling you in the middle of the night to annoy you. Unless the debt collector knows otherwise, the law says they should assume that convenient hours to call you are between 8am and 9pm.

Both Texas and Federal law prevent debt collectors from calling you repeatedly with the intent to harass or annoy you.

Texas and Federal Law

Can a Debt Collector Send a Text or Social Media Message?

Under new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rules, debt collectors can now contact people via email, text, and social media. These rules went into effect on November 30, 2021. The rules put some restrictions on these kinds of messages from debt collectors, including:

  • They must identify themselves as debt collectors when trying to send a message or add someone as a friend.
  • Debt collectors cannot post to social media in ways that are visible to a person's contacts or the public.
  • They must give people a way to opt out of being contacted on that platform in the future.

Federal Law

Understanding the Law

Can a Debt Collector Contact Me at Work?

A debt collector can call you at work unless they "have a reason to know" that your employer prohibits these kinds of calls.

New Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rules allow debt collectors to contact people by email. They cannot contact you at an email address that they know is provided to you by your employer. Debt collectors may be able to use your work address if one of the following applies and you did not ask them to stop using that email address afterward:

  • You used that email address to contact the debt collector or the creditor about the debt;
  • You provided the email address directly to the debt collector or creditor; or
  • A prior debt collector contacted you at that email address.

If a debt collector contacts you by email, they must include in the message a way to opt out of future emails to that address.

Federal Law

Understanding the Law

Can a Debt Collector Talk to My Friends or Family About My Debt?

Debt collectors are prohibited by law from discussing the details of your debt with anyone but you, your spouse, your parent (if you are a minor), a credit reporting agency, the creditor, or the attorneys for the parties involved.

If the debt collector is contacting other people in order to find contact information for you, they cannot state that you owe a debt.

Federal Law

What Can I Do About Debt Collectors Who Break These Laws?

If a debt collector violates one of the laws listed above, there are a few things you can do. Both the federal law and the Texas law allow you to sue the debt collector. Violations of the Texas law are criminal offenses. You can also file complaints with several state and federal agencies listed below.

Texas and Federal Law

File a Complaint