Can I Be Arrested If I Don't Pay A Debt? | Attorney General - State of Colorado

Can I Be Arrested If I Don't Pay A Debt?

Handcuffs and gavel

Many consumers have reported receiving threatening calls from individuals who claim they will have you arrested or thrown in jail if you don’t pay your debt immediately.  These calls usually demand payment over the phone, by wire transfer, or by purchasing money cards and giving the caller the card information.  These types of calls are usually red flags of a debt collection scam.

Collection agencies do not have the legal authority to arrest or put you in jail for nonpayment of a debt.

The Colorado Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (CFDCPA) states that debt collectors cannot make false or misleading statements on the following:

  • Amount owed
  • False representation of being an investigator, law enforcement, or attorney
  • False threats of arrest, imprisonment, garnishment, repossession of property or other misleading statements

It can be difficult to tell the difference between a legitimate debt collector and a scam caller. If you believe a caller may be a fake debt collector:

  • Ask the caller for his name, company, address, and phone number.
  • Legitimate debt collectors are required to provide their contact information and the nature of the debt owed.
  • Do not give out any personal information.
  • Fake debt collectors can use your sensitive information to commit identity theft.
  • Refuse to discuss any debt owed until a written “validation notice” is received.
  • A proper “validation notice” will include the amount of debt, the name of the creditor, and your rights under the CFDCPA.
  • Contact your creditor directly.
  • If you believe you may owe a debt, but the collector does not seem legitimate, contact your creditor to find out what debt collector, if any, has been authorized to collect the debt.

Keep good records:

  • Maintain a file of documents and correspondences between you and any debt collector.
  • Record dates and times of conversations and keep good notes.
  • Do not ignore a court order.
  • If you receive a court order to appear, independently verify the order by contacting the court directly.
  • Consult with an attorney.

If you have received a threatening phone call or fallen victim to a fake debt collector, please file a report here.    



Other Links

Want to Learn More?

  • Visit the Fraud Center for additional information on ways to protect yourself.

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