Know Your Rights

Debt Collectors Calling Your References

Does a debt collector that calls a third party in order to seekPast _due _img location information of the consumer violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act when it reveals to the person called that they were listed as a reference? 

When I first heard the recording of a collector making contact with a relative of the consumer and tell that person they were listed as a reference, I did not think too much of it.  But on further review, this comment, as innocuous as it may sound, actually can be a violation of the FDCPA

We start with the premise that contacting third parties in order to seek location information of the consumer is perfectly legal provided that (1) there is no disclosure to this third party that the consumer owes a debt, and (2) that there be only one call to that third party - unless it is believed that the information given was incorrect.  These provisions are found at 15 U.S.C. §1692b(2) and (3).  Surely, telling someone they are a reference does not disclose the debt.   However, looking at the paragraph that comes before these two, 15 U.S.C.§1692b(1) sheds light on the problem with this statement. 

1692b(1) of the FDCPA states that when a debt collector communicates "with any person other than the consumer for the purpose of acquiring location information about the consumer shall.. state that he is confirming or correcting location information concerning the consumer, and, only if expressly requested, identify his employer. "  When it comes to interpreting a statute, each and every word is to be considered and given its plain meaning.  This section obligates the collector to state that he is confirming location information, and limits the collector from being able to even say who he is working for.  It would seem that Congress, in enacting this legislation, was concerned with collectors going beyond simply trying to find out how to reach the consumer. 

By telling the person called that they were listed as a reference, many people would immediately become curious.  Reference for what?  It may cause the person called to inquire into what they were listed as a reference.  Of course, the collector being unable to make that disclosure only causes more curiosity by telling that person that they cannot say.   The possibilities of what can happen at this point increase.  Aside from causing the person called to pry into the collector, it can cause that person called to call the consumer.  It may cause some confrontation between consumer and alleged reference whereby the person listed as a reference may not appreciate getting these calls. 

Moreover, what if that person is not listed as a reference?  Then the collector made a misrepresentation.  It is rare that a collector actually has all information from a collector as to who were the references for a particular loan.  Chances are more likely that the collector received the information by performing a skip trace.  As such, telling that person that they are a reference, when they are not, which may cause that person to take exception to being a reference and have a confrontation with the consumer is the kind of thing the FDCPA seeks to avoid.  Of great importance to Congress in the FDCPA is the privacy rights of individuals who may owe debts.  This calling tactic is clearly one that potentially breaches those rights. 

When you're being pursued by debt collectors, you have rights,  and we're here to help.  SmithMarco, P.C. has been protecting consumer rights since 2005. If you feel that you're rights have been violated, please contact us for a free case review.



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