Frequently Asked Questions About Debt Collection (continued)
Does the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act apply to major credit card banks?
No, it applies only to the collection attorneys and professional debt collection companies they might hire. Original creditors are regulated by state law; however, the major credit card companies follow policies that closely mirror those of the FDCPA and will comply with your request to stop phoning you at home and work, etc., just as if you were dealing with a collection service. If you believe you have been harassed by an original creditor, or that the original creditor has done something illegal or threatening towards you, then research your state laws on the subject and contact the proper authorities to file a formal complaint. Typically, the Attorney General in your state is the proper authority to contact.
Can a Debt Collector Contact My Employer?
A debt collection agency may contact your employer to verify your employment, your work location, to find out whether you have medical insurance to cover a specific debt, or to garnish your wages. In order to garnish your wages, the debt collector must first sue you and obtain a judgment against you. Most states require debt collectors to make such inquiries of your employer in writing; however, they may allow the collector to contact the employer by telephone if no response is received within a few weeks of the written inquiry.
Can a debt collector call me at work about a debt?
Yes, a collection agency can contact you at work by phone or mail unless the debt collector knows or has reason to know that your employer prohibits you from receiving such communications. Any written communication sent to you at work must me marked "Personal and Confidential" and a debt collector may not reveal the reason for the call to your supervisor or any co-workers. If he does, he has violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and you might have the right to sue him. If you don't want to be contacted at work, write the debt collector a letter asking him not to call you at work or send you notices at work because your boss forbids such activity.
Can a debt collector contact my friends, neighbors and relatives?
Yes, a debt collector can call your friends, neighbors and relatives to try and locate you if you are dodging them or they can't find you; however, if your friend, neighbor or relative asks them to stop calling, they must do so. When a debt collector calls your friend, neighbor or relative, they can only tell the third party who they are and who they are with ("I am with Acme Bank and I'm trying to locate John Doe"), but they cannot reveal your account number, that you have a delinquent debt, or other details of the delinquency. Of course, most people who receive such calls realize it is about a delinquent debt without the caller saying anything. Why else would they be so desperate to get in touch with the person that they would call them, right?
Debt collectors will even contact your neighbors across the street whom you don't even know. They will ask your neighbor to leave a message on your door asking you to call them. Although this tactic is designed to embarass and humiliate you, The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act has not been interpreted to bar them from contacting your relatives and neighbors. Of course, these third parties might tire of receiving such calls and ask the collector to stop. In this event, the collector would be required to stop calling your neighbors and relatives.
Of course, the best way to avoid a debt collector from contacting your relatives, friends and neighbors is to not avoid their phone calls. They only call relatives, neighbors and friends when you are avoiding them.