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
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.