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Debt Collectors Contacting your Employer

Debt Collectors like to contact a debtor's employer because they know how much that worries the debtor and forces them into a payment agreement.  Once someone at work finds out about a debt, it can be quite embarrassing.  The boss and co-workers know about private information that is quite sensitive.  One may fear the employer taking some kind of action against the employee - such as termination for not being able to keep finances in order.  Also, nobody wants to be the subject of water cooler discussions.  So are these communications legal?  And how do we get them to stop?

When is it legal for a collector to contact an employer?  It is legal to contact an employer in order to effectuate a post judgment remedy.  In other words, when a collector has a judgment against you, they are entitled to contact the employer in order to set up a garnishment.  That is all they can do, however.  This is not an opportunity for the collector to harass or bother the employer or discuss your matter in great detail.  Simply, they need to find out where to send the garnishment notice. 

A collector can also contact any third party, which may include an employer.  However, this too is a limited communication.   A collector can only contact a third party in order to seek your location information,  and in doing so, must specifically state just that - that they are looking for location information - and nothing more.  Furthermore, they can only contact that third party one time.  So if a collector is contacting an employer, and that collector does not have a judgment against you, and that collector does not just ask for where you are located, then that collector runs afoul of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Also, when contacting an employer or other third party, the collector cannot even identify the company name unless that third party specifically requests it.  Thus, when collectors send a fax to the company fax machine, chances are they are violating the FDCPA.  Typically, the fax cover page is going to have the collector's name and contact information.  If it was never asked for, then the fax will violate the law.  Moreover, if the fax makes any mention of the debt that is allegedly owed, that too violates the FDCPA. 

In sum, a collector's ability to contact your employer is extremely limited.   Many of the contacts do violate the FDCPA.  If you are dealing with a harassing collector who is contacting, or threatening to contact, your employer, contact us for a free case review.

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