The creditor is the company that has provided goods, services, or a monetary loan to a consumer. For example, credit card companies, medical providers, utility companies, and banks are creditors. When a consumer falls behind on payments, the creditor may begin procedures to collect the past due balance. The consumer may receive phone calls or letters from the creditor's collection department. 

If the creditor's collection department is unsuccessful in collecting the debt, the creditor may decide to hire a collection agency or law firm collector. The creditor may decide to sell the debt to a debt buyer who will begin collection procedures.

Once a debt has been assigned or sold by the creditor to a collector, the consumer has rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.