Three Things You Should Never Say to a Debt Collector

3 things you should never say to a debt collector
3 things you should never say to a debt collector

If harassing calls from debt collectors are keeping you from answering the phone -- or stressing you out -- you're not alone.

Amid the tough economy, debt collection activity has intensified, with some debt collectors engaging in unfair, abusive or illegal practices. The Federal Trade Commission says it gets more complaints about debt collectors than any other industry. In 2009, the agency received 88,190 consumer complaints about debt collectors, up 12% from the year before.

Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), you have the right to sue if overzealous bill collectors break the law. Violators could be liable to you for statutory damages of up to $1,000, plus actual damages suffered and your attorney's fees.

Before you rush out to hire a lawyer, though, you'll still have to deal with those pesky calls. So here are three things you should never say to a debt collector:

1. "I can send you a post-dated check."

The FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from misusing postdated checks. But that doesn't mean that unscrupulous debt collection agencies don't routinely break the law. In fact, experts say it's not uncommon for bill collectors to deposit a postdated check prior to its date.

"You can set yourself up for another nightmare if you give a debt collector a post-dated check and they run off and cash it early," says Rodney Anderson, the author of Credit 911: Secrets and Strategies to Saving Your Financial Life.