Falling behind on your bills can cause an undue amount of stress and anxiety. The stress and anxiety ramps up to a new level when a debt collection agency contacts you at home and/or at work. Contacting you by phone is not the only way many third party debt collectors try to recover outstanding credit card and personal loan balances. One of the most effective tactics used by bill collectors is to contact a third party regarding your debt.
Fortunately, a landmark consumer protection law passed by the United States Congress in 1977 addresses the issues of a debt collection agency contacting a third party regarding your debt. Called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), the federal consumer protection law outlaws the previously legal practice of debt collectors contacting third parties in regards to delinquent consumer debts. If a third party debt collector such as Harris and Harris Ltd. Has contacted a third party concerning your debt, you might be eligible to file a claim against the bill collector.
Exceptions to the FDCPA Third Party Rule
The goal of the third party provision written into the FDCPA was to prevent debt collection agencies from shaming consumers into taking care of outstanding credit card and personal loan accounts. However, the FDCPA allows third party debt collectors to contact third parties under clearly defined circumstances. Let’s say you live with a relative. Harris and Harris Ltd. is permitted only to ask the relative where you live and the best number to reach you. The bill collector cannot even allude to the delinquent consumer debt that is in your name.
Under the FDCPA, the third party provision makes a few exceptions for contacting a spouse. First, Harris and Harris Ltd. Can discuss the debt with your spouse if your spouse is also listed as the debtor on a credit card or a personal loan account. Second, as with contacting a relative, a bill collector can contact your spouse to determine where you are and the best phone number to reach you. Any mention of your debt under any circumstances is a violation of the FDCPA.
Examples of Third Party Violations of the FDCPA
Congress wrote the FDCPA to protect not only consumers, but also to protect friends and family members from the overly aggressive debt collection techniques used by debt collection agencies prior to 1977. Harris and Harris Ltd. is prohibited from contacting your spouse about your debt, if your spouse’s name does not appear on the consumer debt.
The third party debt collector is also banned from contacting a spouse more than one time, which means either the bill collector obtains the information it needs the first time or the company has run out of chances to find out where you live and the best phone number to reach you.
Speak to an FDCPA Lawyer Today
Do not let the shame and embarrassment caused by a debt collection agency prevent you from reaching out to a licensed consumer protection attorney. Optimize your federally granted consumer rights by scheduling an initial consultation with an experienced FDCPA lawyer today.
*Disclaimer: The content of this article serves only to provide information and should not be construed as legal advice. If you file a claim against Harris and Harris Ltd. or any other third-party collection agency, you may not be entitled to compensation.