A favorite tactic of debt collectors is to call the family and friends of the person they are trying to collect money from. And it makes sense…do you want your in-laws…your brother….your best friend…all knowing that you are going through financial difficulty? Of course not. And most of us would beg, borrow, and steal to pay whatever it is we need to pay to make that stop.
And the debt collectors know this.
The problem is federal law prohibits debt collectors from contacting third-parties like your family and friends and discussing your debt issue. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, often referred to as the “FDCPA” sets forth a very narrow exception in which debt collectors can contact third parties, and they are never permitted to disclose your debt issues.
But that doesn’t stop some debt collectors.
When Can Debt Collectors Contact My Family & Friends?
Debt collectors are only permitted to speak with you about your consumer debt. Under the FDCPA debt collectors are permitted to contact third-parties such as your family members, friends, co-workers but only to obtain your address and phone number. However, the debt collector is not permitted to state that they are calling about a debt or infer that the call is in regards to a debt collection matter. Further, the debt collector is only permitted to call once to obtain such information.
Once the debt collector has either your home address and phone number or your work address they are no longer permitted to contact your family and friends.
If the debt collector has already called you at home or sent you a letter then clearly they have your contact information and there is no purpose in them contacting your family and friends. If the collector contacts third-parties when they already have your contact information this is a violation of the FDCPA and you should sue them.
What About My Job? Can a Debt Collector Call Me at Work?
Just like your family, debt collectors can only contact your employer to gain information on where you live and they cannot share why they are calling. As you would likely guess obtaining contact information from someone’s employer without telling them why they need it is a hard sell. So the debt collector will either have to accept that they will not get the information or they will have to violate the FDCPA and tell them why (or misrepresent why) they are calling.
Further, if a debt collector knows or has reason to know that contacting you at work is prohibited or inconvenient, they are not permitted to contact you there.
Debt Collectors are Calling My Family, How Do I Make Them Stop?
Sue them. Debt collectors who violate the FDCPA can be sued for statutory damages of up to $1,000 per case, actual damages (including emotional distress), and attorney’s fees and costs. The damage awards in successful FDCPA cases range from $1,000 in statutory damages up to millions of dollars.
If you sue them they will stop contacting your family. Not only that but in the typical FDCPA case you can seek damages and FDCPA lawyers like myself will handle these cases with no money upfront and will only charge you a fee if I collect on your behalf.
If you are being harassed by abusive debt collectors take the time to learn your rights as a consumer. You don’t have to take the abuse. Fight back.
Click HERE to for videos on using the FDCPA to fight back against abusive debt collectors. If you would prefer to meet in person I offer free consultation on FDCPA matters and would be happy to evaluate your case.
Schedule a Free Consultation!
John Skiba, Esq.
We offer a free consultation to discuss your debt problem and help you put together a game plan to eliminate your debt once and for all. Give us a call at (480) 420-4028