A federal law, known as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) governs the actions of collection agencies and others whose sole purpose is to collection debts. This law stipulations what debt collectors can and cannot do, including how and when/if they are allowed to contact your employer.
Debt Collectors and Work Inquiries
The FDCPA doesn’t state that debt collectors can never contact your place of employment, but it does put limitations on when and how collection calls and other inquiries can be made:
- If the debt collector has been informed, even once, by you or your employer, that you cannot receive phone calls while on the job, then the collector can no longer attempt to contact you at work.
- When a debt collector contacts your place of employment, it can only be to attempt to locate you or confirm your employment.
- No debt collector can legally disclose information about a debt to your employer, nor can they even notify your employer that they are calling or writing regarding debt collection actions.
FDCPA Consumer Protections
The FDCPA’s purpose is to prevent harassing, abusive, or otherwise aggressive and illegal debt collection activities. A debt collection firm that contacts your place of employment may have broken FDCPA stipulations with their initial contact. However, a debt collector that contacts your workplace more than once certainly has broken FDCPA rules. This is because a debt collector is only permitted to contact a third party once in order to verify your location.
Being hounded by collection calls or written communications at work is a scare tactic and qualifies as harassment under FDCPA rules. If a debt collector discloses any information at all to your boss, the human resources department, or any other workplace entity without a court order or without your permission, they are in violation of federal law.
How to Stop a Debt Collector from Contacting your Employer
A written notice, sent certified mail with a return receipt, can serve as proof that you’ve informed a debt collector you’re unable to receive communications while at work. If notifying the debt collector doesn’t end the calls or written inquiries, then you will need to take additional steps. These include:
- Notifying your state Attorney General of harassing activities on the part of the debt collector or collection agency.
- Reporting the debt collector’s activities to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which is a national consumer protection agency tasks with ensuring FDCPA regulations are met
Hiring an attorney is an advisable step in deterring illegal and abusive debt collection practices as well. As soon as you have a lawyer and the debt collector is aware of it, they can no longer contact you directly. A consumer protection attorney can warn debt collectors of legal ramifications for failing to follow FDCPA rules, and if necessary, an attorney can file a lawsuit against a debt collector for violating state and federal statutes.