The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is the main federal law that governs debt collection practices. This law prohibits debt collection companies or law firms from using abusive, harassing, unfair, or deceptive practices to collect debt from consumers.

The law covers debts from personal, family, and household debt, including money owed on a personal credit card account, a medical or utility bill, or a loan. Commercial debts are not covered under this law.

Whether a debt is owed or not, collectors are not allowed to intimidate, harass, threaten, or abuse you. Consumers may be able to sue the collector for violations of the FDCPA at no cost.

If you're a victim of debt collection harassment, document the contact by noting the date, time of day, name of collection agency and agent, caller ID, and details of the phone conversation or message. Contact a debt collection lawyer to discuss your options.

Cary Flitter comments:  The story of Flitter Milz client, Elizabeth Brown

TIME Magazine:  Sue Up or Shut Up!,8599,1548158,00.html