Acquisition of Location Information by Debt Collectors

08 Oct Acquisition of Location Information by Debt Collectors

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”), 15 U.S.C. 1692b, does allows a debt collector to contact third parties to acquire location information.  In my opinion, this is one of the most frequently abused provisions of the FDCPA.  I have spoken with consumers who have had neighbors and distant relatives contacted by debt collectors all under the auspices of obtaining location information.  Luckily, there are some important limitations on what the “acquisition of location information” can be stretched to mean.  First of all, a debt collector must state that he is confirming or correcting location information concerning the consumer, and, only if asked, identify his employer.  The debt collector can also not state that the consumer owes a debt.  A debt collector also can not, with limited exceptions, call a third party more than once unless asked to do so.  Most importantly “location information” means something specific: “a consumer’s place of abode and his telephone number at such place, or his place of employment.”  Although their is some indication in the statute that a debt collector can “confirm” location information, once a debt collector has these three pieces of information they do not have a legitimate purpose in contacting anyone but the consumer. This may also be a violation of your state consumer protection act.

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