Things a Debt Collector may do and when they go too far

Generally, a debt collector is permitted to try to contact you unless you tell them in writing to stop. A Debt Collector may call your home phone, your cell phone, and even your work with the following conditions.

Cell Phones:

Under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, a debt collector must have been provided your cell phone number by you, in order to contact you using an automatic dialing machine or a pre-recorded voice, which is how they make most of their calls. This means that they cannot just find your phone number and then start to autodial it. You must give them your number in order for them to use their automatic dialer and pre-recorded messages. However, even if you have not given them your cell pone number and they find it anyways, in almost all instances, they can still call you the old fashion way by using their fingers to dial the 10 digit phone number.

Work Phones:

A debt collector may contact your place of employment to verify location information once, and only ONCE. Further contact, even without significant disclosure at work may be a violation of Federal law. As embarrassing as it is, it can be helpful down the road to get detailed information from your co-workers who spoke to the collector about the call.

All phones:

Debt collectors are allowed to try to contact you. If you fail to answer the phone, they can leave messages (with certain provisions) and also try to call back, multiple times. Many people complain that the debt collectors call every day, and multiple times per day. From a Debt Collector’s perspective, they are trying to reach you, so they keep calling.

However, you can write to a debt collector and tell them to stop contacting you, and they must abide. Continuing to contact you after a request to cease and desist is a violation of federal law and you can sue them for up to $2,000 (plus attorneys fees and costs). I recommend that you answer the call, and politely ask for enough information to mail or fax a cease and desist letter to their office (address, suite, city, zip, fax number).

Other telephone issues:

Third-Party disclosure:

A debt collector is not permitted to call your friends, family, boss, third cousin on your mother’s side, or anyone who you or the law did not permit them to contact. If they tell these people that you owe money, or provide information to imply that you owe money, then they may have violated the law.

Calls at a time known to be inconvenient:

It is generally accepted that calls before 8AM and after 9PM are inappropriate; however, you can further restrict the time frame that a debt collector can call you. For example, if you answer a call from a debt collector and tell them that from 9AM to 6PM you are at work and cannot take personal calls, they shouldn’t call you during those times. You simply need to tell them that calls during a certain time of day are bad for you. Or you can cut them off entirely as stated above.