Debt collection has become a lucrative business in recent decades. If you have fallen behind on your bills or have delinquent accounts, a debt collector may try to convince you to pay. The tactics these individuals use to obtain payment, though, are not always pleasant.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is a federal law that sets legal parameters for debt collectors. While this law prevents abusive, deceptive and unfair collection practices, collectors often color outside the lines. Here are three tactics debt collectors may use to make your life miserable.

1. Threats

In theory, debt collectors may threaten you, provided they have the ability and intention to carry through with their threats. Because debt collection is typically a civil matter, any threat to call the police or arrest you probably goes too far. Likewise, unless the debt collector already has a judgment against you, threats of wage garnishment may violate the FDCPA.

2. Contacts with friends and relatives

You may not want your friends, relatives or others to know about your debt. Unfortunately, debt collectors can probably contact those inside your social circle to obtain information about your whereabouts. You likely can make them stop, however.

3. Inconvenient phone calls

You should not have to feel anxious every time the phone rings. Regrettably, debt collectors may call you numerous times at inconvenient hours. If these phone calls become harassing, though, you may have a valid claim under the FDCPA. The same is true if debt collectors use obscenities or other harassing words during their calls.

While you have rights under the FDCPA, you may want to explore bankruptcy to help keep debt collectors in line. After all, if you file for bankruptcy protection, debt collectors may not be able to contact you at all.