Debt collectors will try just about anything to get you to pay them, including threatening to have you arrested if you don't pay your debt.
Being in debt is not a crime. You cannot go to jail just because you didn't pay the bank or the hospital. Any debt collector that tells you otherwise is lying to you and is violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the federal law that governs debt collectors.
What should you do if a collector makes this threat? Report them to the Federal Trade Commission and your state's attorney general. These are the people who make sure debt collectors are doing what they're supposed to do. You can also sue the collector in federal or state court for damages, plus up to $1,000, and court costs.
5 debt-related things you could go to jail for:
- Purposely not paying your taxes
- Commiting fraud, including taking out loans you never intend to repay
- Violating a court order, e.g. failing to pay court-ordered child support
- Trying to hide assets to avoid paying a judgment
- Failing to appear on court after a lawsuit summons
More on dealing with debt collectors