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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.

General Information

About This Guide

This research guide provides information about debt collection practices, relevant Texas and federal laws, and other information that may help you understand the debt collection process. It includes links to resources that explain the law in "plain English," agencies who may be able to help, and articles with more information on the topic.

New Texas Legislation

Note The 88th Regular Legislative Session ended on May 29th, 2023, and a special session has been called. This means there may be new laws that affect this subject. 

Read the library's Spotlight post on the ending of the 88th Regular Session and what comes next. We briefly discuss deadlines, the governor's veto power, and how to find new legislation. To research new legislation on this topic, please see the resources below.

Texas and Federal Law

There are sections of both federal law and Texas law that govern debt collection. The other pages of this guide will talk about these laws in more detail, including what rights and protections they give to people who owe money.

Understanding the Parties

Once an overdue debt goes to collections, there might be more parties involved than just the person who owes the money (the debtor) and the person or entity to whom they owe it (the creditor). Third-party debt collectors attempt to collect a debt on behalf of the creditor. Debt buyers will purchase the right to collect a debt from the original creditor and try to collect it for themselves. Recent cases have found that debt buyers qualify as debt collectors under federal law.

Because the law covers different parties in different ways, it's important to understand who's who.

Original Creditors

Third-Party Debt Collectors

Debt Buyers

What is Charged-Off Debt?

Charged-off debt is debt that the original creditor has given up hope of collecting. However, just because a debt has been charged-off does not mean that you no longer owe it. In many cases, debt buyers will purchase the rights to collect charged-off debt from the original creditor. If this happens, you owe the debt to the debt buyer instead of the original creditor.

General Information About Debt Collection

Several agencies and organizations have compiled pages with general information about debt collection and your rights when dealing with debt collectors. Please see the following links for more information:

E-Books from the Texas State Law Library

Many of the e-books available through the State Law Library contain forms or drafting guides. In order to access these titles, you will need to register for a free library account.

Our librarians recommend:

Who Can I Contact?

There are several state and federal agencies that can provide more information about your rights concerning debt collectors. These agencies will also allow you to file complaints.