The Massachusetts Attorney General’s Debt Collection Regulations prohibit many unfair debt collection practices by creditors, 1 and regulations of the Massachusetts Division of Banks prohibit unfair debt collection practices by debt collection agencies. 2
When communicating directly with you, creditors and collection agencies may not:
- Call you at home more than twice for each debt in any seven-day period, or
- Call you more than twice for each debt in any thirty-day period at some place other than your home, such as your place of work.
- Call you at work if you have requested that they not call. Your oral request that a collector not call you at work is valid for ten (10) days only. Written requests are valid until you write to the collector removing the restriction.
- Call you without identifying both the name of the creditor and the name of the person calling. The caller may use a name other than his or her own, but the creditor or collection agency on whose behalf the call is being made must be able to identify that person.
- Cause expense to you in the form of long distance calls, express mail charges, wire fees, or other similar charges.
- Falsely threaten to take legal action that the creditor does not take or reasonably intend to take.
- Tell anyone (including your friends, neighbors, relatives, or employers) about your debt, without your written consent.
- Mail to you any printed or written materials that reveal or imply that you owe a debt (for example, by using a postcard to contact you or using a descriptive return address).
- Visit your home at times other than your normal waking hours. A collector may not visit you more than once in any thirty-day period for each debt, unless you give permission for additional visits.
- Call you at times other than your normal waking hours. If your waking hours are unknown, then the collector may only call between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.
Under State and Federal Law, if you want all debt collection contact to stop, and it is a debt collection agency (as opposed to the creditor itself) that is contacting you, you can request in writing that all such contact stop. 3 The debt collection agency can not contact you again; however, the agency can sue you to try and collect the debt.
Creditors and debt collection agencies can try to find a debtor if they reasonably believe they do not know where you live. However, they can not inform anyone about your debt.