Can a creditor threaten you with jail over a credit card bill?

Asked on July 15, 2015 under Bankruptcy Law, South Dakota


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

No it is not legal. A creditor cannot threaten a debtor with criminal action for a past due debt. The exception would be if they had had committed a fraud of some sort in obtaining the funds, etc; that would be a crime. For example, if you borrowed money from someone with no intention of repaying them back. Other than that, neither a debt collector or creditor may threaten criminal charges. They can be sued if they do. Addtionally, a creditor cannot harass or otherwise intimidate someone who owe's a debt. It's the law and is called the "Fair Debt Collections Practices Act" (FDCPA).

Bottom line, while you can't be threated, you still owe the money. Just be careful in how you set-up repayment plan (specifically, just what banking information you give them).

If you feel that your rights have been violated you can contact your state's attorney general's office or department of consumer affairs. You can also contact an attorney regarding the criminal threat; there are those who specialize in representinhg victims of illegal debt collection practices.

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