The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law that protects consumers from abusive and unlawful debt collection actions. The law stipulates when, why, and how debt collectors can contact third parties, like friends, family, and neighbors. If a debt collector has contacted your parents, they may or may not be in violation of the FDCPA.
Allowed Communications under FDCPA
Debt collectors are not prevented from contacting you or your parents entirely, but the FDCPA does limit the communication methods collection agencies can employ.
- If your parents are co-signers on the debt, then the debt collector can contact you or your parents.
- If you live with your parents and the debt collector calls the home phone to try to reach you, then they can have limited communications with your parents, if one of your parents answers the phone.
- Even if you do not live with your parents, a debt collector can contact them via mail or phone, but only in an effort to reach or locate you, and generally, the debt collector can only contact your parents once.
Disallowed Communications under FDCPA
The FDCPA stops debt collectors from using illegal and harassing contact methods Debt collectors cannot:
- Share debt details with your parents, if they are no co-signers on the debt.
- Contact your parents more than once in an effort to locate you.
- Tell your parents that the call or letter is about a debt collection activity.
- Threaten or otherwise harass your parents in any way.
What if You’ve Already Spoken to the Debt Collector?
If you have communicated with the debt collector and they have your current contact information, then they have no reason to contact your parents, unless your parents are co-signers on the debt. In other words, debt collectors that continue to contact any third party after having received your current contact details are in violations of FDCPA rules. The FDCPA only permits third-party contacts when the debt collector is attempting to locate you.
How to Stop Collection Calls and Letters
Whether your parents’ names are on the debt or not, you can stop debt collectors from calling under the FDCPA by sending a formal, written “cease communications” notice. This letter should be sent via certificated mail and require a signature upon delivery. This ensures you have proof that the notice was received by the collection agency or firm.
Once a debt collector receives such a notice, collection calls and letters should stop. If they don’t the debt collector may be in violation of FDCPA regulations. It is important however to keep in mind that a cease communication notice doesn’t make debt collection actions go away. It only stops the debt collector from calling or sending notices in the mail.
Hiring an Attorney and Reporting FDCPA Violations
If debt collectors are harassing you, your parents, or anyone you know, you can report them:
- to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which is responsible for investigating violations of the FDCPA and for enforcing the regulations of this federal law.
- to the Attorney General’s office in your home state, as collection agencies may also be breaking state laws through their actions.
You may additionally want to contact an attorney who can help protect your rights as a consumer. Debt collectors that do break federal and state laws can be held legally and financially accountable.