Debt-collection companies have become a big business. But more people are being contacted mistakenly by these companies simply because their name is the same as someone else on their lists. Even if you have fallen behind on payments and truly owe the debt, there are rules debt-collection firms have to follow, and you have rights.

For example, the Federal Trade Commission says debt-collection companies cannot call you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. They cannot be abusive or threatening to you on the phone. And the FTC says if you send debt-collection companies a letter telling them you do not want to be contacted about the debt, they must stop.

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To watch a brief YouTube video from the FTC about your rights, go to You also can download a pamphlet at

To file a complaint with the FTC or get more information, call 877-382-4357.