Is it Legal for Debt Collectors to Call Family Members?
Debt collection is a common and often stressful experience for many people. While it can be difficult to deal with, it’s important to know your rights and understand what debt collectors can and cannot do. One question that often arises is whether debt collectors are legally allowed to call family members in an attempt to collect a debt. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the laws surrounding debt collection and what you need to know about family member calls.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law that protects consumers from abusive and unethical debt collection practices. The law outlines specific rules and guidelines that debt collectors must follow when attempting to collect a debt. These rules include what they can say and do when contacting you, how often they can contact you, and who they can contact in an attempt to collect a debt.
Under the FDCPA, debt collectors are generally prohibited from contacting third parties, such as family members, unless they are attempting to obtain location information about you. In other words, if a debt collector can’t find you and has no other means of contacting you, they may be allowed to contact your family members to try and locate you. However, they are not allowed to disclose any information about the debt to your family members or anyone else.
What Constitutes "Location Information"?
The FDCPA defines "location information" as information about your whereabouts, such as your address, phone number, or place of work. Debt collectors are allowed to contact third parties to obtain this information, but they are not allowed to share any details about the debt itself. For example, a debt collector may call your family member and ask if they have a current address for you, but they cannot tell your family member that you owe a debt or provide any other details about the debt.
Exceptions to the Rule
While debt collectors are generally prohibited from contacting third parties about a debt, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, they may be allowed to contact your employer if you owe money for a student loan or if you have a judgment against you. In addition, if you have given your consent for a debt collector to contact a third party, they may be allowed to do so. However, it’s important to note that you can revoke this consent at any time.
What to Do if a Debt Collector Contacts Your Family Members
If a debt collector contacts your family members in an attempt to collect a debt, it’s important to take action. First, ask your family member to provide you with the name and contact information of the debt collector. You should then contact the debt collector and inform them that you are aware of your rights under the FDCPA and that they are not allowed to contact third parties about your debt.
If the debt collector continues to contact your family members despite your request not to do so, you may want to consider filing a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) or consulting with an attorney who specializes in debt collection laws.
In conclusion, debt collectors are generally not allowed to contact family members in an attempt to collect a debt unless they are trying to obtain location information about you. If you do owe a debt and a debt collector contacts your family members, it’s important to take action and assert your rights under the FDCPA. By understanding your rights and knowing what debt collectors can and cannot do, you can protect yourself and your family from abusive debt collection practices.
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