Despite what you might have seen in the movies, debt collectors aren't allowed to bust your door down if you owe money.
They also can't tell your employer about your debt without your permission, unreasonably harass your family or charge over-the-top debt-collection fees.
Credit Simple spokeswoman Hazel Phillips said if someone believed an agency chasing them for money was behaving in an inappropriate way, they should check their rights.
"Question it - don't just accept that because you owe some money you have to put up with anything."
Credit Simple is an online service that allows Kiwis to keep track of their credit score.
In one case, Phillips spoke to a man who had a debt lodged against his name by mistake.
"A debt collector came along and confronted him at work and told his boss," Phillips said.
"This guy isn't allowed to do that kind of thing, he can't front up to your boss and say, 'hey, your employee owes money'."
The man threatened to complain to the Privacy Commissioner, resulting in a written apology from the collection agency.
She said debt collection agencies were heavily regulated and big companies such as Baycorp were extremely unlikely to act the way she'd seen some lower-level collectors do, breaching people's privacy or harassing them for payment.
By law debt collectors can't use physical force, coercion, or unreasonably harass your family.
They also can't mislead or deceive you or take advantage of vulnerability such as a disability, nor can they tell your family, friends, or employer about your debt without your consent.
People who racked up credit card bills or took out personal loans over Christmas could be getting a knock on the door about now if they hadn't paid back what they owed, Phillips said.
January to March has the highest percentage of credit card accounts past due, with 7.6 per cent of Kiwis paying their credit card bills late.
By April, these debts might start being referred to debt collectors, Phillips said.
For those struggling to pay their debts, Phillips had a few tips.
"If you do find yourself unable to pay a bill, don't bury your head in the sand.
"Under the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act, lenders must consider a 'hardship application', but you need to get in fast.
"Once your debt has been passed to debt collectors this becomes a lot more difficult."
Most companies would rather arrange something with their customer than send the debt to a collection agency so calling as soon as you knew you were going to struggle with a payment was always a good idea, Phillips said.
And if debt collectors broke any rules, Kiwis had the right to complain.
"That can be to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner if the debt collector has broken the privacy laws, or the courts if the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act or the Fair Trading Act is breached by, for example, claiming unreasonable debt collection fees or misleading you into believing that you are required to pay fees when you are not."