Information from the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions

Debt collectors and your rights

Washington State Collection Agency Act

The first thing to know is that Washington state law prohibits intimidating, threatening, or harassing conduct in connection with the collection of a debt.

The Washington State Collection Agency Act took effect on January 1, 1972, and is enforced by the Department of Licensing and the Washington State Collection Agency Board. The law is intended to protect consumers and stop abusive practices by debt collectors.

Debt collectors aren't allowed to:

When contacting you, collection agencies aren’t allowed to:

  • Charge you for collect calls or telegram fees.
  • Communicate with you or your spouse more than 3 times in a single week. See: RCW 19.16.120
  • Communicate with you at your workplace more than once a week.
  • Communicate with you or your spouse at your home before 7:30 a.m. or after 9 p.m., unless you request they contact you during alternate hours.
  • Use offensive language.
  • Make threats of force, violence, or criminal prosecution such as jail time or taking of personal property (doesn’t include filing a court case to obtain a judgment).
  • Threaten you with an impaired credit rating if you don’t pay the debt (doesn't include telling you the debt will be reported to a credit reporting agency, which may affect your credit rating).
  • Communicate directly with you if they’ve been notified in writing by your attorney to contact the attorney about your debt.

How to file a complaint against debt collectors

If you feel a debt collector has violated Washington law, contact the Washington State Department of Licensing. 

Washington State Department of Licensing

How to stop debt collection calls

You have the right to tell a debt collector to stop communicating with you. To stop communication, send a letter to the debt collector and keep a copy of the letter. 

Once a debt collector receives your letter, the debt collector may not contact you again except to:

  • Tell you there will be no further contact
  • Tell you that they or the creditor may take other  actions they are legally allowed to take, such as filing a lawsuit against you

If the collector continues to call after receiving the letter, they may be violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). It is also against the law for a debt collector to use unfair, deceptive or abusive practices in an attempt to collect debt from you.

Additional resources

Sample Scripts on How to Reply to a Debt Collector
Information from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

What Could Happen If You Ignore A Debt Collector
Information from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau