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What is a debt collector and why are they contacting me?

A debt collector is generally a person or company that regularly collects debts owed to others or who has the primary purpose of collecting debts. They’re likely contacting you because they’re trying to reach a person who may owe a specific debt.

Debt collectors can include collection agencies or lawyers who collect debts as part of their business. There are also companies that buy past-due debts from creditors or other businesses and then try to collect them. These companies are also often called debt collection agencies, debt collection companies, or debt buyers.

Why is a debt collector calling me?

A debt collector may be trying to contact you because:

  • A creditor believes you are past due on a debt. Creditors may use their own in-house debt collectors or may refer or sell your debt to an outside debt collector.
  • A debt collector also may be calling you to locate someone you know, but the collector is not allowed to reveal that the consumer owes any debt.
  • A debt buyer has bought the debt and is now collecting that debt themselves or by using other debt collectors.

If the debt collector is contacting you for payment on a debt, there is certain information they usually must give you in the initial communication or within five days of that initial communication.

If you don’t believe you owe the debt or believe the amount is wrong, you can dispute it with the debt collector and the credit reporting company, if the debt appears on your credit report. If you dispute the debt in writing within 30 days of receiving the required information about the debt from the collector, then the debt collector must send you verification of the debt. You can also ask the debt collector for additional information.

Learn more about what to do if a debt collector contacts you

Getting a debt collector to stop calling you

You can ask a debt collector to stop contacting you. Asking them to stop contacting you will not necessarily stop them from suing you or reporting the debt to a credit reporting company, which can affect your credit report and credit scores. If you don’t owe the debt or have already paid the debt, it is important to take action to contest the attempt to collect the debt.

If you're having issues with debt collection, you can submit a complaint with the CFPB