The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act or FDCPA safeguards consumers against harassing, unfair, and unlawful debt collection methods that are all too commonly used by collection firms and other debt recovery agents. The FDCPA’s protections encompass many provisions, including in some cases, preventing debt collectors from contacting your spouse.
When Your Spouse can be Contacted
Yes, but the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) safeguards consumers against harassing, unfair, and unlawful debt collection methods that are all too commonly used by collection firms and other debt recovery agents. The FDCPA’s protections that apply to consumers also apply to a consumer’s spouse.
When Your Spouse cannot be Contacted
Debt collectors are not permitted to contact you or your spouse if you notify them in writing that you want them to cease communications. A debt collector that fails to cease communications after written notification is in violation of federal law. Additionally, debt collectors are not permitted to contact you or your spouse:
- before 8:00 am or after 9:00 pm
- during times you identify as inconvenient (e.g. from 9am-5pm)
- at your work phone number, if you notify the debt collector that your employer prohibits such communications
- at a particular phone number (such as a cellular telephone phone number) you identify as inconvenient (note: a request to cease all calls must be done in writing)
- after notice of attorney representation
Contact Methods Debt Collectors Can Employ
Collection agencies and other debt collectors may only call or write to you on a reasonable schedule. Constant phone calls and mailings are considered harassing under FDCPA stipulations. Likewise, debt collectors can only contact friends, family members, or employers once, and only then if it is an effort to verify contact information or to verify employment.
Collectors that contact a third party, like a friend, family member, or employer, cannot share any information about the debt with that third party. This includes restrictions that prevent debt collectors to disclose any information that informs the third party that the communication is related to debt collection efforts.
How to Stop a Debt Collector from Communicating with Your Spouse
Debt collectors can be held accountable for their questionable and illegal practices. To stop a collection agent from speaking with your spouse, you can send a formal notice to the collection agency, demanding that they cease communications. If your spouse’s name is associated with the debt, both of you must sign the letter. Be sure to send the letter certified mail, with a return receipt, so you can have evidence that the debt collector received the communication.
If the collection agent continues to call or write, or uses other harassing and abusive collection techniques, you can speak with an attorney. Hiring a lawyer removes the burden of direct debt communications from you entirely. Under FDCPA regulations, debt collectors may not contact a consumer or spouse if he or she retains legal representation.