The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued bulletins on Wednesday warning any companies collecting debt that they would be held accountable for unlawfully dealing with consumers.

"These bulletins make clear that it doesn't matter who is collecting the debt - unfair, deceptive, or abusive practices are illegal," said CFPB Director Richard Cordray in prepared remarks. "Consumers need options to help them secure fair and respectful treatment from those debt collectors that fail to abide by the law. They can protect themselves by using our action letters to communicate with debt collectors and by submitting a complaint to us if they believe they are harmed by illegal conduct."

The CFPB, created under the Dodd-Frank Act, also announced the expansion of its online consumer complaint database to debt collection. The agency is offering five action letters for consumers to use in corresponding with collectors.

"Some debts are too old, under federal law, to be included on a consumer's credit report for most purposes. Collectors may try to conceal this fact, telling consumers that paying the debt would remove it from their credit report even though the debt does not show up there anyway," Cordray said. "The bulletin is intended to serve as a reminder that such practices are wrong and that the consumer bureau will be attentive to hold people accountable for illegal actions."

For the full piece see "CFPB to Debt Collectors: We're Watching You" (may require subscription).