Their tactics are limited by the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act. Here are five things that third-party debt collectors — those who collect a debt on behalf of another creditor — can't do. Next week, we will look at give things they can do:

Come to your workplace

It's illegal for a debt collector to come to your workplace to collect payment. The act prohibits publicizing your debts, and showing up at your job to collect your debt counts. They may, however, call you at work, though they can't reveal to your co-workers that they are debt collectors. To stop these calls, ask the debt collector not to contact you at work. They must stop, according to the law.

Harass you over a debt

Harassment from a debt collector can come in many forms: Repeated calls. Threats of violence. Publishing information about you. Abusive or obscene language. All of these are illegal under the debt collection practices act.

Arrest you for debt

You can't be arrested for a debt you owe to a debt collector. However, if a debt collector sues you over debt and you fail to show up in court, you may lose by default and be ordered to pay. Then if you defy that court order, the collector may pursue an arrest warrant.

Pursue you for debt that you don't owe

The debt collection industry is rife with inaccuracies. Incomplete or inaccurate documentation can lead a debt collector to pursue the wrong person for payment, or pursue the right person for a debt he or she already paid. This issue isn't uncommon, but it's illegal. If you doubt a debt that you are being asked to pay, start by checking your credit report.

Call you whenever they want

Debt collectors can't call you before 8 a.m. and after 9 p.m. You can also request that a debt collector stop calling or writing in pursuit of payment on a debt. Your obligation to pay the debt remains, however.