Calling 3rd parties such as family, friends,
employers, employees and neighbors is strictly prohibited when collectors
already have your phone number!
If you believe you are a victim of unfair or illegal debt collection tactics, submit your information to a FREE* Fair Debt Lawyer by:
The debt collector may just be liable to you for statutory damages of up to $1,000, plus any actual damages suffered, plus attorney fees!
In order to stop collection calls at home you must send a "stop
calling letter" to the collector. Stopping calls at work can be a verbal or
written notification. See notes below for information about who and
when they can call, how many times a day can they call, calling your cell
phone, stopping calls at work and rescinding a "do not call" letter.
(see notes below)
Stop Debt Collection
do I stop debt collectors from contacting me?
Another powerful tool for stopping harassing phone calls is to
record the phone conversation. Inform the caller at the beginning of the call
that you are taping the call as evidence for filing a formal complaint with the
State Attorney General and the Federal Trade Commission. If your phone system
does not have a way to record conversations, purchase an inexpensive cassette
tape or digital type answering machine capable of recording several minutes and
that allows recording while on the phone. Another option, if your phone has a
speaker option, is to place it in this mode and use a regular or hand-held tape
recorder to tape the conversation.
ALWAYS inform the caller at the beginning of the call that you
taping the call.
See these Collection
Call Rules and if the calls continue, contact your State Attorney
General's consumer protection division, use this link
to locate yours and then file a formal complaint. While you're on
the phone or the web site, ask if they can offer any assistance such as calling
or sending the collector a written warning to stop harassing you. Also ask for
a reference to any state laws that offer protection from harassment.
Consider filing a formal complaint with the Federal Trade
Commission (FTC) as well using their FTC on-line
IMPORTANT: When collectors demand payments
under the threat of legal action they may be violating the FDCPA.
Although you have the right to refuse to work with
collectors, if you choose to make payments, send a payment agreement
letter (return receipt requested) and only promise to pay what you
can afford. Remember, a judge has to grant a judgment before collectors can
take any action such as wage garnishment. Judgments are not automatic! Always
do everything in writing, keep accurate records (for at least 15 years).
The only legal reason for calling neighbors (or any third
party) is to locate you. If collectors already have your location information
(home phone, home address or work phone and address) then, calling third
parties is prohibited. The only possible reason for calling third parties,
after they already have your location information, is to embarrass you; a clear
violation of the FDCPA.
NOTE 1: When can they call?
Unless you give debt collectors permission to do otherwise,
they can only contact you under specific conditions and during certain times of
They can contact you at your place of residence by
phone, mail, in person, by FAX or email during reasonable hours such as between
8 am and 9 P.M..
They cannot contact you at any unusual time or place
or a time or place known or which should be known to be inconvenient to you.
They cannot contact you at work if your employer
disapproves and they are informed of this fact by you or your employer.
See Illegal Phone Calls
Note 2: How many times a day can they call?
According to the FTC's published interpretation of the
FDCPA, collectors cannot continuously call you. Section 806(5) prohibits
contacting the consumer by telephone "repeatedly or continuously with intent to
annoy, abuse, or harass any person at the called number." Continuously means
making a series of telephone calls, one right after the other. "Repeatedly"
means calling with excessive frequency under the circumstances.
Note 3: Can they call my cell phone?
The short answer is yes! If you provided your cell number
on the credit application or to the creditor as a means of contacting you, then
collectors can call your cell phone. The only way to stop them from calling you
on your cell phone (or any other phone) is to send a "stop calling letter".
Who can they call?
Section 805(b) -- Communication with Third Parties
Unless you consent, or a court order or section 804 permits, "or
as reasonably necessary to effectuate a post-judgment judicial remedy," debt
collectors "may not communicate, in connection with the collection of any debt,
with any person other than you, your attorney, a consumer reporting agency if
otherwise permitted by law, your creditor, the attorney of the creditor, and
the attorney of the debt collector."
Section 805(b)1. Consumer consent to
the third party contact. Your consent to third party contact does not have to
be writing. For example, if third parties volunteer that you have authorized
them to pay on your account, then the debt collector may normally presume your
consent, and accept the payment and provide a receipt to the party that makes
the payment. However, consent may not be inferred only from your inaction when
the debt collector requests such consent.
Section 805(b)2. Location information.
Although a debt collector's search for information concerning the consumer's
location (provided in section 804) is expressly excepted from the ban on third
party contacts, debt collectors may not call third parties under the
pretense of gaining information already in his possession.
Section 805(b)3. Incidental contacts
with telephone operator or telegraph clerk. Debt collectors may contact an
employee of a telephone or telegraph company in order to contact the consumer,
without violating the prohibition on communication to third parties, if the
only information given is that necessary to enable the collector to transmit
the message to, or make the contact with, the consumer.
Collectors are allowed to call third parties to verify
location information. This means they can call your family, friends, neighbors
and employer. However, the information they reveal about you and themselves and
the questions they can ask is strictly limited by the FDCPA. When contacting
third parties they must identify themselves but not state that you owe any
debt; they can say that they are confirming or correcting information they have
about your location, address, phone number, and employer only. Also, only if
expressly requested to do so, can they identify who they work for.
on 3rd Party Contact
IMPORTANT NOTE! Let me emphasize that section
805(b)2. specifically says, "debt collectors may not call third parties
under the pretense of gaining information already in his possession."
Thus, calling your family, friends, neighbors, employees, employer and
so forth, after they already have your phone number, is a serious violation of
the FDCPA and should be reported to your State Attorney General
Note 5: Stopping Collection Calls at Work,
First of all, collectors should only call someone other
than you at work to verify your employment. Discussing your debt or any other
personal information is illegal! They are allowed to call you at your place of
employment if they have not been told your employer prohibits such calls.
If your employer objects to collectors calling the
workplace, either you or your employer must inform collectors of the "no call
policy". This can be verbally or in writing (the FDCPA supports verbal
notification). Once informed, any additional calls to your work place violates
the FDCPA and opens the collector up to a lawsuit.
Note 6: Rescinding "do not call" order.
If you've sent collectors a "do not call or contact" letter
and now you'd like to rescind that order, you must do so in writing. Just
calling them and telling them is not enough. It's true that collectors will
probably take your call but they would be wise to not talk with you until
you've rescinded the no contact order in writing.
On the other hand, you may be contacted by a collector,
lawyer, or creditor requesting you to lift the no contact order. Only you can
decide to do this however, the only legitimate reasons for lifting the no call
order is to negotiate a payment plan or settlement of the issue.
I'm usually asked if the letter requesting you to lift the no
call order is a violation of the FDCPA. The FDCPA does address this issue
directly but it does say that any contact after receiving your written no
contact letter must comply with the FDCPA. Namely, to inform you of what they
intend to do now however, this communication cannot contain a dunning notice
(demand for payment). If it does, it violates the FDCPA. In my opinion,
requesting you to lift the order, so that negotiations can take place is not a