According to EducationData.org, student loan defaults affect about 9 million individuals and their families. Of new graduates, 11% default on their student loans within the first year of repayment. For those that have defaulted on their student loans, you may notice a few letters or emails from collection agencies, but if you continue to miss payments, you’ll start receiving phone calls. While collection agencies are allowed to contact you, they cannot harass you. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) defines debt collection harassment as: • Threatening to harm you. • Using obscene or profane language. • Repeatedly calling in order to annoy or harass you.They cannot call you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., and they also cannot contact you at your place of work. If a collection agency is doing either, you should report them. You are allowed to reach out to the collection agency by mail and ask them to stop contacting you; however, it could result in them taking action against you, like a lawsuit. It may be beneficial to work with the collection agency to settle the debt.1. Debt owed. You should first ask them how much debt is owed. Your numbers may match theirs – or they may not. 2. Name of the creditor. The debt collection agency should tell you who you owe money to. Again, their creditor needs to match the name of yours. 3. How to get the name of the original creditor. If the name they give you doesn’t match the creditor that you believe you owe money to, they need to explain a way to find the original creditor. 4. What to do if it’s not your debt. If you think a mistake has been made and they have the wrong information – or the debt they’re calling about is not yours – they must provide next steps for you to clear your name. If everything the debt collection agency shares with you is legitimate, it’s time to move forward in settling your debt. But, if there are discrepancies, it may be time for you to hire a lawyer.At this stage in the process, you need to be on your guard against debt collection scammers. If the information they give you does not line up with your own, do not share personal or financial information, and contact an attorney immediately. The FTC provides more in-depth information on how to interact with debt collection agencies or scammers.