Has a bill collector been calling you at work, interrupting you at your job, leaving you embarrassed or perhaps putting your job at risk? Read on to find out how to make it stop. The short answer to these questions are “usually” and “yes”. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibits a third party debt collector from making phone calls “at an unusual time or place”.
The Act goes on to state that calls after 8:00am and before 9:00pm at the debtor’s residence are presumed to be “convenient”.
The FDCPA also states that phone calls to a debtor’s place of employment are allowed EXCEPT in the case where the debt collector knows that the employer prohibits such calls. So at the beginning of the collections process, a debt collector may call you at work. However, the FDCPA goes on to provide that the consumer / debtor CAN make the calls stop. All it takes is a letter.
To quote the FDCPA, “If a consumer notifies a debt collector in writing that the consumer refuses to pay a debt or that the consumer wishes the debt collector to cease further communication with the consumer, the debt collector shall not communicate further with the consumer with respect to such debt.” It doesn’t get much simpler than that.
The only thing the bill collector can do after they receive your letter saying “Stop calling me!” is to tell you the following:
- advise you that the debt collector’s further efforts are being terminated
- notify you that they (or the original creditor) may invoke specified remedies which are ordinarily invoked by the debt collector or creditor
- notify you that the debt collector or creditor intends to invoke a specified remedy
Notice the underlined portions above? If the debt collector tells you (in any manner: phone call, letter, email, etc) that they plan on suing you when they have no intention of suing you that is a violation of the law.
The same goes for calls at home. If you tell them that you do not want them contacting you, they are required by law to stop. You can inform them on the phone, but it’s much better to send them a Certified Letter requiring them to sign for it, with Return Receipt. They are only allowed to tell you the three points mentioned above. If they go beyond that, they have violated federal law.
So what happens if they do continue calling you at home or at work after they’ve received your letter stating you do not want them communicating with you? The FDCPA provides that the debt collector is liable to you for up to $1,000.00 in statutory damages (legalese that means you do not have to show you were damaged or suffered injury in order to collect) and if you did suffer other damages they are liable to pay those as well. They are also required to pay your reasonable attorney fees. The practical effect of that is that your attorney will not charge you to file suit or otherwise represent you against the debt collector, should they violate the law.
If you have other questions about this, or if you feel you’ve been abused or harassed by a debt collector, please call me at (402) 718-8865 or you can email me by going here. There is no cost to call or for a consultation at my office. I represent people who have been abused or harassed by debt collectors in Omaha, Lincoln, Douglas County, Lancaster County, Sarpy County, Washington County and the surrounding area.