Debt Collection Methods & The FDCPA – Part Two: Telephone Calls

25 Mar Debt Collection Methods & The FDCPA – Part Two: Telephone Calls

There are generally three debt collection methods that debt collectors use:  letters, telephone calls, and credit reporting.  These methods fall under the category of communications as defined by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.  Each method is discussed in this series with a brief commentary regarding what is and is not permissible (and in some instances what is required) under the FDCPA.  Remember that harassment or abuse, false or misleading representations, and/or unfair or unconscionable means to collect a debt are NEVER permitted.  This post will discuss telephone calls. 

Telephone Calls To You

  • May NOT be at any unusual time or place, or a place known to be inconvenient.  An inconvenient time is before 8 AM and after 9 PM.  Section 1692c(a)(1). 
  • May NOT harass, oppress, or abuse you including threats of violence, prison, or foul language.  Section 1692d(1-2)
  • May NOT cause your phone to ring repeatedly or continuously with the intent to annoy, abuse, or harass you.  Section 1692d(5). 
  • A debt collector may NOT contact you if he knows or can easily discover that you are represented by an attorney.  Section 1692c(a)(2). 

Telephone Calls To Third Parties 

There is a limited exception where communication with third parties is permissible is to obtain location information.  The FDCPA defines location information as “a consumer’s place of abode and his telephone number at such place, or his place of employment.”  Section 1692a(7).  Even in this event, the debt collector is very limited in what it is allowed to disclose to a third party.  The debt collector must identify himself and that he is confirming location information for the consumer.  The debt collector must NOT state that the consumer owes a debt, communicate with the third party more than once, and not communicate by postcard.  Section 1692b(1-6).  Otherwise, communication with third parties without the prior consent of the consumer is prohibited. Section 1692c(b). 

Telephone Calls to Your Workplace 

A debt collector may not contact you at your workplace if he knows or has reason to know that your employer forbids you from receiving the calls.  Section 1692c(a)(3).  Furthermore, Section 1692a(1) forbids communication at “a…place known or which should be known to be inconvenient to the consumer.” 

Telephone Calls To Your Neighbors, Relatives, & Co-workers

Calls to these parties are generally not permitted.  The only exception is to obtain location information (see above).  Unless the debt collector is a really good guesser, if a debt collector knows who your neighbors or who your co-workers are, the debt collector knows where you are and should NOT be contacting these people to locate you, which is the only permissible reason to contact third parties.

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