How to Protect Yourself From Criminal Debt Collectors

Here are the best ways to combat illegal debt-collection tactics.

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Issue complaints. If the debt collector makes any threats or acts aggressively, immediately contact the Better Business Bureau (not the bureau where you live, but where the debt collection company is located). You should also call the attorney general in that particular state. It will have a consumer protection division, which is designed to handle such complaints. Finally, complain to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "If you contact those three, one of them will do something about it," Bartmann says.

Lawyer up. If none of these courses of action are effective and you continue to be harassed by a debt collector, hire a private attorney. "You can get them relatively inexpensively," Bartmann says. Adams points out an added benefit of enlisting the help of a lawyer: "If you inform a debt collector that you have an attorney, the debt collector is prohibited from contacting you directly."