Can a Debt Collector Contact my Friends?

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After many past issues, debt collectors have very strict rules about how they are allowed to collect and how they deal with consumers. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) was enacted in 1978 by the Federal Trade Commission, and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) in 1991 to protect consumers from unfair practices used by debt collection agencies.

If you do not want collectors contacting any third parties, you request this in writing. Make sure to keep a copy of the letter. Ask friends if they are receiving calls about you and keep track of them.

What debt collectors are allowed to do

Debt collectors are allowed to call a friend, but only once, unless the friend requests future calls, you directly give the collector permission to do so, or the information your friend gave was wrong or incomplete. Collectors can only call friends to find out or confirm your location information, your home address and phone number or work address and phone number, even if that friend is making payments on the loan.

If the agency already knows your location or finds out from another person, there is no reason to call anyone else and they stop all third party calls.

What debt collectors can’t do

They aren’t allowed to ask for information other than the location information or for your friend to pass on a message. During the calls, the same phone etiquette rules apply for friends as they do you. There can’t be any harassment, rudeness, or obscenity when they are speaking with your friend.

Debt collectors are required to truthfully identify themselves. They can reveal their employer only if your friends specifically asks. Most importantly, they can’t mention the actual existence of a debt, the amount owed, or reveal any other personal or confidential information to a third party. When they call, they have to talk to a friend directly, and aren’t allowed to leave messages on their home phones or their cell phones.

It is also a violation of the FDCPA to demand or ask a friend to pay in your place. Collectors can’t even ask leading questions that would imply they want your friend to make a payment.

How an attorney can help

Once you have an attorney, collection agents aren’t allowed to contact any third parties about your location or even you. Tell the agency your lawyer’s name and contact information, preferably in writing.

As well as being the point of communication and relieving the stress of constant calling, an attorney can examine your evidence, help you build a case, and defend you and any third parties in a court of law. If debt collectors violate the FDCPA, you are also entitled to sue and receive damages.