Debt collectors calling? You have rights.
• The debt collector must tell you — within five days of initial contact — the amount you owe, the name of the creditor and how you should proceed if you think you don't owe the money. If you dispute the debt, send the collection agency a letter within 30 days saying so. Once the debt collection company receives your letter, it must stop trying to collect until it sends you written proof of the amount you owe.
• Debt collectors may not call you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. unless you say it's OK. They may not call you at work if they know, or if you tell them, that your employer prohibits such calls. If you tell them to contact you only by mail or not to contact you at all, they must comply (it's best to put your request in writing). If you have an attorney representing you over the debt, the collector must deal with the lawyer, not you.
• Collection agents may not "harass, oppress or abuse you or any third parties they contact," the Federal Trade Commission states. They may not threaten violence or harm, publish the name of debtors, use profanity or make repeated calls to annoy someone.