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When and how often can a debt collector call me on the phone?

There are laws to prohibit debt collectors from placing repeated or continuous telephone calls to annoy, abuse, or harass you or others who share your phone number. They’re also prohibited from communicating with you at times or places that are inconvenient for you.

When can a debt collector call me?

Generally, debt collectors can’t call you at an unusual time or place, or at a time or place they know is inconvenient to you. They are generally prohibited from contacting you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. The law also requires debt collectors to follow instructions you give them about when and where you don’t want to be contacted.

If you don’t want to receive calls from a debt collector at a particular time or place, such as on the weekends or at work, you should tell the debt collector. If they’re aware you don’t want or are not allowed to receive personal calls at work, for example, they’re not allowed to contact you there.

You have a right to ask a debt collector to stop contacting you.

How often can debt collectors call me?

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibits debt collectors from placing repeated or continuous telephone calls to you or having telephone conversations with you with the intent to annoy, abuse, or harass you. “Placing a telephone call” includes telephone calls that the debt collector makes and that go into voicemail.

In addition, the Debt Collection Rule creates certain “presumptions” to help determine whether debt collectors have violated this law. The debt collector is presumed to violate the law if they place a telephone call to you about a particular debt:

  • More than seven times within a seven-day period, or
  • Within seven days after engaging in a telephone conversation with you about the particular debt.

Factors such as the frequency and pattern of phone calls and voicemails may also be used to assess whether a debt collector complied with or violated the law. For example, if the debt collector placed seven calls to you about a debt within a seven-day period, but all seven calls were made on the same day, they could be violating the law. There may be some exceptions to this, including if you gave them consent to call more frequently.

The limits generally apply per debt but in the case of student loan debt – depending on the facts – multiple debts could be counted together as one “particular debt,” so the limits would apply to those debts as a group.

Keep in mind that these presumptions only apply to telephone calls placed by the debt collector to you and don’t apply to other forms of communication, including text messages, emails, in-person interactions, or social media messages, which have other protections.

For more information about repeated or continuous telephone calls or telephone conversations, review the Debt Collection Rule FAQs or see Section 7.1 in the Debt Collection Small Entity Compliance Guide . Your state laws may also provide additional protections, and you can check with your state attorney general’s office for more information.

If you're having an issue with debt collection, you can submit a complaint with the CFPB.

Learn what to do when a debt collector contacts you.

Learn more about debt collection.