When Collectors Communicate With Friends and/or Family

Often times, when attempting to collect a debt, Piggy _bank
collectors contact friends and/or family members
of the person
who allegedly owes the debt, more formally referred to as “third
party contact”.  “Third party contact” can be done within the
guidelines of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
(“FDCPA”).  However, there are limits to these contacts,
and a debt collector needs to be extremely careful when making
contact with a third party
.     

Collectors are permitted to contact friends and/or family
members solely to obtain location information regarding the
debtor.   Moreover, the FDCPA states that when
contacting the third party
, the collector must notify the
person they are calling that they are seeking the location
information of the consumer, and may not disclose the name of the
collector’s employer unless expressly requested by the person
called.   The collector can only
call that third party one time
, unless they have good reason to
believe that the information given by that third party the first
time around was incorrect.  Most importantly, however, the
debt collector must refrain from
disclosing to the third party
that the consumer owes any
debt. 

Despite the strict guidelines of the FDCPA, collectors often go
beyond the four corners of the statute and push the envelope to
obtain payment thus violating the Act.  Collectors often times
make third party contact to coerce the debtor into making payment
by leaving cryptic messages for the collector to pass on.  The
debt
collector
seeks to incite the debtor into making a call to the
collector so that the collector can make further attempts to coerce
payment.  Sometimes, if the collector contacted a parent of
the debtor, the collector would attempt to convince that parent to
pay on the debtor’s behalf. 

If the collector contacting the third party makes any
disclosures regarding the fact that the debtor owes any debt or if
the third party has knowledge that the collector has already
located the debtor, the debtor may be able to sue the debt
collector for damages and attorney fees under the FDCPA. The third
party has some of the same rights under the FDCPA as the alleged
debtor.  Any attempts by the collector to use abusive or
threatening language, or any means of harassment,  when
speaking with the third party can subject the collector to
liability to that third party under the FDCPA.  Also, if that
third party has made it abundantly clear that they cannot lead the
collector to the debtor, but that collector insists on continued
calls to that third party, then the third party has a claim against
the collector under the FDCPA. 

Other blogs written related to this topic can be found at Debt
Collection, Third Party Contact
and
Collectors Call Your Friends, Family and Co-Workers

If you or a friend or family member are being contacted by a
collector and feel your rights have been violated under the FDCPA,
contact SmithMarco P.C. for a free case
review.