If you have ever had to deal with creditor harassment, then you probably understand just how much this near-constant communication can negatively impact your life. If you fall behind on car payments or credit or medical bills, among other expenditures, you may find yourself attracting the unwanted attention of a debt collector.

While it is the job of the debt collector to recover as much of your debt as possible, he or she does not have free reign over how, when and where to contact you. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act outlines illegal debt collection practices debt collectors may not lawfully use, and these include:

Pretending to be someone else

Federal laws prohibit debt collectors from misrepresenting themselves to collect on your debt. For example, a debt collector cannot pretend to be an attorney or a law enforcement official as a way of frightening you into compliance if that is not actually the case.

Contacting you at inconvenient times or places

Generally, debt collectors cannot contact you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. at night, unless you give them specific permission to do so. Furthermore, they cannot continue to contact you at your place of business if you asked them explicitly not to do so, whether orally or in writing.

Harassing you

Debt collectors also may not use profane language or threats of harm when trying to collect what you owe. They also may not call you repeatedly in an effort to annoy you into paying off your obligation.

Engaging in unfair collection practices

Unless state law or your existing contract says debt collectors may assess interest or add fees on to the amount you owe, doing so constitutes an illegal collection practice. Furthermore, debt collectors may not contact you about your debt via postcard, nor can they deposit a post-dated check earlier than the date that appears on the check.

If you are experiencing harassment or are subject to illegal debt collection practices at the hands of a debt collector, consider contacting a lawyer to discuss your options.