Official State of Iowa Website

Legal Protections from Debt Collectors

Sometimes people get behind on paying their bills for reasons beyond their control. If you are behind on your bills, debt collectors might have started contacting you, asking for payment. While this is a legitimate practice, there are limits in what the debt collectors can do and say to you under both Iowa law and federal law.

Iowa Code section 537.7103 places limits on when and how often debt collectors can contact you, what they can say to you, and who they can tell about the debt, among other things. Examples of the limits placed by Iowa Code section 537.7103 include that the debt collector cannot:

  • Physically threaten you
  • Use profane or obscene language
  • Threaten to falsely accuse you of fraud or a crime
  • Call you repeatedly or at unusual hours with the intent to annoy, harass, or threaten you
  • Tell other people about the debt (with limited exceptions listed in section 537.7103(3)(a))

Iowa Legal Aid provides extensive information on this topic in their publication Rights of Debtors. If you believe a debt collector is violating the law, you can file a complaint with the Iowa Attorney General’s office.

In addition to the limits Iowa law places on debt collectors, there is also a federal law called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act that places limits on debt collectors. The Iowa law and the federal law are similar but do have some differences in what they require of debt collectors and in who counts as a debt collector under the law. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau provides more information on the federal law here. The Bureau also provides “how-to” guides to help understand what debt collectors can do and how to respond to debt collectors.

For more information on debt collection, see Iowa Legal Aid’s Debt Collection, Garnishment, Repossession page.