Collection agency's responsibilities and laws that protect everyone else

Hard coming up with a title for this multiple-pronged question… I’ll try to make this to the point.

I had a situation in which I was somewhat blindsided by a collection agency calling me and stating that an account had been turned over to them. I was under the impression that this account was being handled by a consolidation company… The consolidation company’s request was turned down, my account closed (yes, a credit card) and quickly turned over to the collection agency. (you can read more in a previous thread I began about this)
I was having a conversation today in which I was told that by law, there is a certain amount of days in which the debt has to be outstanding before a collection agency can be brought in. I was given the figure 120 days when I asked. I’m not sure if this is credible information but it certainly does make sense. My account was around 30 days outstanding before this was turned over. What is the legal boundary in which collection agencies need to abide by before intervening?

Second, in my past thread about this I was given the info that collection agencies must provide a written statement, typically the day in which they make their first call. I never received any written notification and have been waiting for something before returning their call. Even then, I plan on having a correspondence with the agency that is “in writing only”

Finally, What rights am I protected under? What are illegal things I should look out for that a collection agency may use to intimidate people into payment?

Any other pertinent info anyone may have on protection I have and should use would be greatly appreciated.
In no way do I plan on avoiding payments etc. However, I want to get this over with as smoothly and painlessly as possible. The guy assigned to my situation is a jerk… a complete jerk. I was respectful and to the point on the one occasion in which we spoke. He harassed me until I terminated the call.

Mandatory Disclaimer to save everyone the time: I know you are in no way my lawyer and what you are giving me is a personal opinion that I will not take as legal advice nor use in any other way than information for the development of future thoughts and direction for starting my own research.

Thanks!

Here’s the Fair Debt Collection FAQ from the FTC, which outlines your basic rights as a debtor. Your state may have additional, more stringent, laws.

When I was in collections, we had a list of names we were not allowed to use to speak to or refer to a customer as, nor were we allowed to make threats, although we could tell them what we actually could or would do. Violations were a federal fine, and a sizable one at that, IIRC. Writing to the collection agency to request that they only contact you via letter would probably be a good idea. If you do, be sure to send it certified, return receipt requested, and keep your proof of mailing from the post office. It’s not required to sign or return a certified mail postcard (the green card attached to a certified letter), so the proof of mailing may be your *only *proof. Also, document every contact you have with the agency, including date, time, what they said, any derogatory language, etc.

No time limit for involvement of a collection agency that I’m aware of. Certainly no restriction on the debt collector. The only thing I can think of is that there may be a limit for accounting purposes concerning when a debt can be charged to profit and loss. But the only collection-related deadline associated with P&L is that the charge off starts the clock running for the debt’s stay on your credit report.

Yup.

http://www.ftc.gov/os/statutes/fdcpa/fdcpact.htm#808

Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and probably a few state laws.

Some good resources:

http://www.nolo.com/article.cfm/ObjectID/FBFB935E-DB52-48CB-A64E2502F91AE24B/catID/43A35C36-0A53-4E37-B92C80B98E69E6D0/213/208/155/FAQ/

http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/credit/fdc.htm