EDISON - The average New Jersey family owes about $8,000 in credit card debt. Each year, collection agencies nationwide make more than 1 billion phone calls trying to collect that debt.

However, no matter how much someone owes, there are laws in place to prevent debt collectors from harassing them.

"If I don't have money to pay a bill, and I tell you so, calling me 800 more times is not going to change my financial outlook," says attorney Craig Kimmel.

Under law, debt collectors are not allowed to call people at work or on their cellphone. Collectors also have to stop calling completely if a person requests it. Consumers also have the right to see proof that they actually owe money before they pay.

In New Jersey, collectors also have a time limit when it comes to debt. They cannot sue or force someone to pay a debt that is more than six years old.

Anyone who may feel a debt collector is breaking the law can often get free legal representation. The law allows attorneys to collect their fee from the debt collection company. Most attorneys will take the case if it is strong enough.