Editor's Note: This article is the second of a two-part series on debt collection.
Calling Debtors At Work
If a debt collector calls you at work and you tell him that you can’t talk to him when you are on the job, he must stop contacting you there immediately. Also, if a debt collector calls you at work, he can’t tell your coworkers or boss that he is trying to collect a debt that you owe. Yet 8,092 consumers complained about this practice last year.
How to fight back: If you tell a collector not to call you at work, it’s a good idea to follow up that request in writing. If the collector continues to call you on the job or if the collector discloses your debt to your employer and/or people you work with, contact a consumer law attorney to find out whether you can take legal action.
Disclosing Your Debts To Others
Recently, a caller on a talk radio show described how a debt collector called her and told her to go knock on a neighbor’s door and tell that person to answer their phone when the collector called! But debt collectors are not allowed to tell anyone else about your debt unless that person is your spouse, a cosigner on the debt, or an attorney.
The only reason a debt collector can contact your neighbors or co-workers is to find out how to locate you – and even then the collector can’t indicate that you owe a debt. Once the collection agent finds out how to reach you, his calls to other people should stop.
Consumers filed 6,949 complaints about this type of illegal behavior in 2008. The FTC warns that this practice is especially serious because it can put a consumer’s personal and professional life in jeopardy.
How to fight back: As embarrassing as it may be, if a neighbor or family member is being improperly contacted about a debt that you owe, ask that person to take notes about the call using your Collector Contact Worksheet. Then call a consumer law attorney for advice about what to do next.
If you are dealing with collection agencies, it is important to know your rights so you don’t make bad financial decisions under pressure. Remember there are rules that collectors must follow when collecting debts and they are breaking the law when they don’t. They will often ease up when they realize you know your rights. If you can level the playing field by becoming more informed about your debt collection rights, you’ll be able to find a solution that allows you to put your debt problems behind you.
What do you think about the tactics discussed in this article and other debt collection practices? Would love to see your comments and questions on our active credit card forum.
Also, on a related note, if you are currently struggling with any type of consumer debt, then consider using the services of DebtGoal.com, the first free online debt management system.