Bill collectors are less abusive than they used to be, the federal government says.
This year, the Federal Trade Commission has received 2,000 complaints from people who said they were harassed by debt collectors. That figure is down from 4,000 complaints a year in the late 1970s.
Third-party bill collectors are governed by federal law enforced by the FTC. Since 1978, about 30 companies have been fined a total of more than $1 million for violating the law.
The law bars debt collectors from calling a person at home before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., or from calling consumers at work after the collector has been asked not to do so.
The law also forbids collectors to make illegal contacts with relatives, neighbors or employers.
For a free copy of the laws that govern bill collectors, write to FTC, Public Reference Branch, Room 130, Sixth Street and Pennsylvania Ave N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. Ask for Fair Debt Collection Practices.