Knowing what debt collectors can and cannot do can save you a lot of money and headache.

Debt collectors usually purchase a book of debtors from creditors and then try to recover the full amount plus their own costs from the debtors. To achieve this, debt collectors sometimes use less than savoury tactics.

Before you become a victim of this behaviour, here’s what you should not allow the debt collector to do:

Recover prescribed debt

According to Roy Bregman, legal adviser from Bregman Moodley Attorneys, very often the claims against the debtors have prescribed. Prescribed debt is old debt that has not been acknowledged over a period of three years.  However, debt collectors sometimes try to persuade the debtor to admit liability and to commit to monthly payments (which will include the debt collector’s costs), says Bregman.

Threaten you

Sometimes debt collectors threaten to take legal action against consumers. This is a violation of the Debt Collectors Act. The debt collector is not allowed to use force or threaten you, your family or anyone who has ties with you in order to collect your debt.

Intimidate you

The debt collector may not act in an intimidating manner towards you or any member of your family. Debt collectors are known for bullying or laying on the guilt to pressure you into paying your debt. Sometimes they can even go as far as contacting family members to try and obtain money from them. Should you have such an encounter, do not hesitate to seek legal counsel.

Call at certain times

The Debt Collectors Act does not allow debt collectors to call at certain times. The act stipulates that the debt collector cannot make telephone calls or personal calls to demand payment of a debt on a Sunday or between 9pm and 6am on any other day, unless you or your spouse request the debt collector to do so.

Ignore your legal adviser

The debt collector is not allowed to contact you when your legal representative has notified the debt collector that all future correspondence will be between the two of them.

Contact your employer

According to the act, the debt collector cannot initiate or threaten to initiate contact with your employer before obtaining final judgment against you.

Conceal the name of the creditor

If the debt counsellor does not indicate the name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed to, the balance of the account, the identity and the basis of the claim of the person making the demand, you have the right to ignore him.

Disclose information to ruin your creditworthiness

The law states that debt collectors are not allowed to disclose or threaten to disclose information which could adversely affect your reputation for credit worthiness, especially if they know or suspect  the information to be false.

If debt collectors are bothering you, Bregman advises that you totally ignore their repeated calls and text messages.

“The only time that you need to react is in the unlikely event that you receive a summons,” he says.