Debt collectors can be relentless. They often call repeatedly. Sometimes they even call a person’s family or friends! Fortunately, there are laws in place that put restraints on how and when a collection agency may contact a debtor, as well as laws regarding who a debt collector may contact.
Dealing with debt you cannot afford to pay back is stressful enough, you do not need the added burden of your friends and family finding out about your debt problems.
Can Debt Collectors Call My Family or Friends?
Debt collectors may only in very limited circumstances contact anyone other than you.
Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) a debt collector may contact a person other than the consumer only if they do not have contact information for the consumer.
In such limited circumstances, a debt collector may “for the purpose of acquiring information about the consumer” contact friends or family; however, there are a number of limitations upon what can and cannot be said during that contact. A debt collector contacting a third party shall:
- identify himself, state that he is confirming or correcting location information concerning the consumer, and, only if expressly requested, identify his employer;
- not state that such a consumer owes any debt;
- not communicate with any such person more than once unless requested to do so by such person or unless the debt collector reasonably believes that the earlier response of such person is erroneous or incomplete and that such person now has correct or complete location information;
- not communicate by postcard;
- not use any language or symbol on any envelope or in the contents of any communication effected by the mails or telegram that indicates that the debt collector is in the debt collection business or that the communication relates to the collection of a debt; and
- after the debt collector knows the consumer is represented by an attorney with regard to the subject debt and has knowledge of, or can readily ascertain, such attorney’s name and address, not communicate with any person other than that attorney, unless the attorney fails to respond within a reasonable period of time to communication from the debt collector. 15 U.S.C. §1692(b).
Understand that the FDCPA applies to third-party debt collectors who are attempting to collect debts on behalf of someone else, not to original creditors/lenders.
How Can I Stop Debt Collectors From Calling Me, My Work, or My Friends and Family?
If a creditor is contacting your friends or family in violation of the law, it may give rise to an FDCPA violation claim against them. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) may help you deal with those breaking the law.
As for creditors calling your place of employment: Under the FDCPA debt collectors may not communicate with you, “at the consumer’s place of employment if the debt collector knows or has reason to know that the consumer’s employer prohibits the consumer from receiving such communication.” 15 U.S.C. 1692(a)(3). If a creditor is calling you at work, get them to stop by telling them that your employer does not allow you to receive personal calls at work. If they continue to call, it is in violation of your rights.
Finally, you have the power to stop the collection phone calls. Under the FDCPA, once you notify a collection agency in writing that you do not want to receive phone calls, they cannot legally continue to call you except under specific and limited circumstances. Learn How to Stop Collection Phone Calls in our article here.
Filing for Bankruptcy Stops All Collections
Filing for bankruptcy immediately stops all collection action. As soon as you file for bankruptcy protection, your creditors must cease and desist from all collection action against you, including:
- Calling you or sending bills.
- Wage garnishments or bank levies.
- Suing you for unpaid debts.
- Moving forward with pending lawsuits.
- Repossessing your car (at least not right away).
- Foreclosing on your home (at least not right away).
Bankruptcy is a powerful legal remedy to stop collections and help you get out of debt. Filing for bankruptcy can help you gain financial freedom and may very well help you make today the first day of the rest of your life.
Find out more about being debt free in our guide: All About Debt Relief
We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.