Can a Debt Collector Call My Boss?
The short answer is yes, but only to confirm your employment. They may not reveal why they are calling or that they are a debt collector. Section 805 of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) specifically limits contact between debt collectors and third parties, which means they cannot reveal your debt to your boss. This is to stop collection agencies from shaming consumers and adversely affecting their employment, as that may impact their ability to remain employed, get a promotion, or even pay back the debt.
The FDCPA allows debt collectors to confirm employment but limits the scope of communication with employers to prevent them from using public shaming as a collection tool. It balances a debt collector’s basic need to verify information about a consumer to collect the debt with a consumer’s need to maintain their dignity and remain professional in the workplace, which could be negatively impacted by the disclosure of embarrassing information.
However, debt collectors do not always adhere to the letter of the law. In one recent case filed in federal court, a debt collector called an employer’s workplace stating it was “about an important matter,” then allegedly revealed information about the debt to the consumer’s receptionist, their boss, and their HR department. This lack of professionalism severely impacted the consumer’s ability to maintain their professionalism in the workplace.
What Are Debt Collectors Prohibited From Saying to My Employer?
The FDCPA does not completely prohibit a debt collector from contacting your employer, but it does severely limit what they are allowed to say. They may not identify themselves as a debt collector, disclose or discuss the debt, and they may not call at all if you have told them they are not allowed to call your workplace.
However, there are some exceptions to these rules. For instance, if you gave a debt collector permission to call your employer, these prohibitions do not apply. You may be unaware that you gave them permission, so always read the fine print before signing a contract! Another exception can occur if there is a court order or judgment against you, and contacting your employer is a reasonable step to enforce the judgment.
Then What Can a Debt Collector Say to My Boss?
A debt collector is permitted to call once to verify your location, phone number, and that you are an employee of that company. However, they may not call at all if you have informed them your workplace has a policy against such phone calls.
A review of federal court cases reveals that debt collectors often violate the one-call provision of the FDCPA and call employers multiple times. In several instances, debt collectors were accused of calling consumer’s workplaces multiple times after being told to stop.
What Should I Do if a Debt Collector Has Revealed That I Owe a Debt to My Boss?
Collection agencies are prohibited from disclosing that they are a debt collector or revealing you have a debt to your boss. If this happens, it is time to seek a consumer law firm experienced in litigating consumer debt cases.