18 Nov Abuse in Acquisition of Location Information
Some debt collectors abuse the very limited right to contact an employer to acquire location information. As it relates to employment, location information is limited to knowledge of a debtor’s “place of employment.” 15 U.S.C. 1692a(7).
A debt collector may “confirm” this location information. 15 U.S.C. 1692b(1). However, according to the Federal Trade Commission, the FDCPA prohibits a debt collector from contacting third parties under the pretense of obtaining information already in his possession. See Statements of General Policy or Interpretation Staff Commentary on the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 53 Fed.Reg. 50097-02, 50105 (Dec. 13, 1988).
Therefore, a debt collector has no justification to contact an employer for location information when it already knows the debtor works there. In my experience, the “acquisition of location information” exception is commonly abused. Even when a debt collector otherwise follows the law and does not reveal or imply a debt collection purpose and does not contact the employer more than once, an employer will often ask the caller his identity which will lead to the disclosure of the name of the debt collection company.
This is usually enough to create anxiety in a debtor even if a debt collector plans to go no further. However, due to the FTC commentary and supporting case law on the issue, if a debtor can show that a debt collector already knew his place of employment but contacted his employer anyway, the debtor may have a worthwhile claim under the FDCPA.
For more about abusive debt collection and FDCPA rights with a Massachusetts
perspective visit www.fair-debt.com
Nicholas Ortiz, Boston Bankruptcy Attorney
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