What states require a professional licensing number for debt collectors?

Sarah Edwards

May 07, 2022

Unlicensed debt collectors^^

Summary: Are debt collectors coming after you for a debt you don't recognize? SoloSuit can help you take a stand against unlicensed collectors and win in court.

Debt collection can be a dicey business. Knowing the rules about how professional debt collection licensing differs by state can protect you from a debt collector acting illegally.

Attempting to collect debt without proper licensing can lead to some serious consequences for a debt collector and the company they work for.

Debt holders should also be aware of these laws since an unlicensed debt collector may be attempting to extract payment without the legal standing to do so.

Debt collection rules vary by state

Debt collection is highly-regulated on a federal level. It becomes even more complicated when state laws are considered because every state has the right to further regulate the practice of professional debt collection.

Before paying on a debt, protect your finances by knowing the local laws in the state you reside in.

A few states don't require debt collection licensing

Only a minority of states permit professional debt collection without a professional licensing number. The list of states that do not require a license for debt collection are:

  • Georgia
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Michigan
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Dakota
  • Vermont
  • Virginia

Even within these states, there are exceptions. Most notably is the state of New York. While there are no statewide rules regulating licensing, debt collectors operating within some cities are required to be licensed. Some major cities that require licensing in New York are New York City, Buffalo, and Yonkers.

Most states require debt collection licensing

All states not included in the list above require professional debt collectors to be licensed. Failure to follow these regulations can lead to serious consequences. Here's a map of debt collection license requirements in the United States:

Regulations are subject to change, so collectors and debtors alike should make sure to keep up with changing laws. In the past, California did not require licensing. That changed recently, going into effect on January 1, 2022. Similarly, Mississippi will enact a new requirement for debt collection licensing beginning July 1, 2022.

It's possible for other states to follow suit in the future. Knowing how to respond to a debt collector in your state is the best way to achieve a successful outcome.

Exemptions exist for some situations

For every rule, there's an exception. Or, in this case, an exemption. Even in states that require a professional licensing number for debt collectors, some parties are exempt from this requirement.

Out-of-state agency exemptions might provide regulations based on whether a collector has a physical presence in the state and might also address the collection method being utilized.

Commercial debt is debt that solely exists between two businesses rather than between an individual and a business. Some states that require a professional licensing number for collecting debt from an individual also have commercial exemptions in place.

Some state regulations have exemptions in place for third-party debt collection agencies. These exemptions apply only to situations where the collector has purchased the debt they're trying to collect.

Other states allow regulation exemptions for collection attorneys and collection law firms. In some cases, the exemption only extends to cover firms and lawyers licensed to practice in that state.

Ask a debt collector for their license number

If you live in a state where debt collectors must be licensed, you should always ask the collector for their professional license number when contacted about a debt. This is a great way to spot fraudulent debt collectors from real ones: real debt collectors will give you their license number without hesitation, whereas fake debt collectors will avoid the question and oftentimes even get aggressively defensive about it.

When a debt collector refuses to disclose their license number, consider it a red flag. It might mean that the collector is acting illegally without a license, or it might mean that the collector is fake and trying to scam you.

Know how to take action against unlicensed debt collectors

For individuals facing debt collection, being informed goes a long way. Know the signs of a debt collection scam, and know how to report a debt collector acting illegally.

When a debt collector is acting illegally, it's important to take action. Being proactive goes a long way towards helping you come out ahead when you're facing legal action over your debts.

If you're being sued for a debt, SoloSuit can help. Our automated software can help you prepare a response to a debt lawsuit. Don't risk losing a lawsuit because you don't know how to proceed. Get started with SoloSuit today.

What is SoloSuit?

SoloSuit makes it easy to respond to a debt collection lawsuit.

How it works: SoloSuit is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your answer. Upon completion, you can either print the completed forms and mail in the hard copies to the courts or you can pay SoloSuit to file it for you and to have an attorney review the document.

Respond with SoloSuit

"First time getting sued by a debt collector and I was searching all over YouTube and ran across SoloSuit, so I decided to buy their services with their attorney reviewed documentation which cost extra but it was well worth it! SoloSuit sent the documentation to the parties and to the court which saved me time from having to go to court and in a few weeks the case got dismissed!" – James


Get Started


We have answers.
Join our community of over 40,000 people.

You can ask your questions on the SoloSuit forum and the community will help you out. Whether you need help now or are just looking for support, we're here for you.


Ask a Question


>>Read the FastCompany article: Debt Lawsuits Are Complicated: This Website Makes Them Simpler To Navigate

>>Read the NPR story on SoloSuit: A Student Solution To Give Utah Debtors A Fighting Chance

How to answer a summons for debt collection in your state

Here's a list of guides for other states.

All 50 states.

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah; File a Motion to Satisfy Judgment
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

    Guides on how to beat every debt collector

    Being sued by a different debt collector? Were making guides on how to beat each one.

    Win against credit card companies

    Is your credit card company suing you? Learn how you can beat each one.

    Going to Court for Credit Card Debt — Key Tips

    How to Negotiate Credit Card Debts

    How to Settle a Credit Card Debt Lawsuit — Ultimate Guide

    Get answers to these FAQs

    Need more info on statutes of limitations? Read our 50-state guide.

    Why do debt collectors block their phone numbers?

    How long do debt collectors take to respond to debt validation letters?

    What are the biggest debt collector companies in the US?

    Is Zombie Debt Still a Problem in 2019?

    SoloSuit FAQ

    If a car is repossessed, do I still owe the debt?

    Is Portfolio Recovery Associates Legit?

    Is There a Judgment Against Me Without my Knowledge?

    Should I File Bankruptcy Before or After a Judgment?

    What is a default judgment?— What do I do?

    Summoned to Court for Medical Bills — What Do I Do?

    What Happens If Someone Sues You and You Have No Money?

    What Happens If You Never Answer Debt Collectors?

    What Happens When a Debt Is Sold to a Collection Agency

    What is a Stipulated Judgment?

    What is the Deadline for a Defendants Answer to Avoid a Default Judgment?

    Can a Judgement Creditor Take my Car?

    Can I Settle a Debt After Being Served?

    Can I Stop Wage Garnishment?

    Can You Appeal a Default Judgement?

    Do I Need a Debt Collection Defense Attorney?

    Do I Need a Payday Loans Lawyer?

    Do student loans go away after 7 years? — Student Loan Debt Guide

    Am I Responsible for My Spouses Medical Debt?

    Should I Marry Someone With Debt?

    Can a Debt Collector Leave a Voicemail?

    How Does Debt Assignment Work?

    What Happens If a Defendant Does Not Pay a Judgment?

    How Does Debt Assignment Work?

    Can You Serve Someone with a Collections Lawsuit at Their Work?

    What Is a Warrant in Debt?

    How Many Times Can a Judgment be Renewed in Oklahoma?

    Can an Eviction Be Reversed?

    Does Debt Consolidation Have Risks?

    What Happens If You Avoid Getting Served Court Papers?

    Does Student Debt Die With You?

    Can Debt Collectors Call You at Work in Texas?

    How Much Do You Have to Be in Debt to File for Chapter 7?

    What Is the Statute of Limitations on Debt in Washington?

    How Long Does a Judgment Last?

    Can Private Disability Payments Be Garnished?

    Can Debt Collectors Call From Local Numbers?

    Does the Fair Credit Reporting Act Work in Florida?

    The Truth: Should You Never Pay a Debt Collection Agency?

    Should You Communicate with a Debt Collector in Writing or by Telephone?

    Do I Need a Debt Negotiator?

    What Happens After a Motion for Default Is Filed?

    Can a Process Server Leave a Summons Taped to My Door?

    Learn More With These Additional Resources:

    Need help managing your finances? Check out these resources.

    How to Make a Debt Validation Letter - The Ultimate Guide

    How to Make a Motion to Compel Arbitration Without an Attorney

    How to Stop Wage Garnishment — Everything You Need to Know

    How to File an FDCPA Complaint Against Your Debt Collector (Ultimate Guide)

    Defending Yourself in Court Against a Debt Collector

    Tips on you can to file an FDCPA lawsuit against a debt collection agency

    Advice on how to answer a summons for debt collection.

    Effective strategies for how to get back on track after a debt lawsuit

    New Hampshire Statute of Limitations on Debt

    Sample Cease and Desist Letter Against Debt Collectors

    The Ultimate Guide to Responding to a Debt Collection Lawsuit in Utah

    West Virginia Statute of Limitations on Debt

    What debt collectors cannot do — FDCPA explained

    Defending Yourself in Court Against Debt Collector

    How to Liquidate Debt

    Arkansas Statute of Limitations on Debt

    Youre Drowning in Debt — Heres How to Swim

    Help! Im Being Sued by My Debt Collector

    How to Make a Motion to Vacate Judgment

    How to Answer Summons for Debt Collection in Vermont

    North Dakota Statute of Limitations on Debt

    ClearPoint Debt Management Review

    Indiana Statute of Limitations on Debt

    Oregon Eviction Laws - What They Say

    CuraDebt Debt Settlement Review

    How to Write a Re-Aging Debt Letter

    How to Appear in Court by Phone

    How to Use the Doctrine of Unclean Hands

    Debt Consolidation in Eugene, Oregon

    Summoned to Court for Medical Bills? What to Do Next

    How to Make a Debt Settlement Agreement

    Received a 3-Day Eviction Notice? Heres What to Do

    How to Answer a Lawsuit for Debt Collection

    Tips for Leaving the Country With Unpaid Credit Card Debt

    Kansas Statute of Limitations on Debt Collection

    How to File in Small Claims Court in Iowa

    How to File a Civil Answer in Kings County Supreme Court

    Roseland Associates Debt Consolidation Review

    How to Stop a Garnishment

    Debt Eraser Review

    Do Debt Collectors Ever Give Up?

    Can They Garnish Your Wages for Credit Card Debt?

    How Often Do Credit Card Companies Sue for Non-Payment?

    How Long Does a Judgement Last?

    ​​How Long Before a Creditor Can Garnish Wages?

    How to Beat a Bill Collector in Court