Falling behind on debt payments can be stressful for a variety of reasons. However, it can be even more stressful when debt collectors start calling your family members too. It can seem like debt collectors can invade every inch of your personal life. From your job to your family, it appears there’s nothing they won’t do. But are debt collectors even allowed to call your family? This article will look at this question and more. Keep reading to see what debt collectors can do!
Who Can Debt Collectors Contact?
Unfortunately, it often feels as though debt collectors have free reign when it comes to contacting people close to you. They show up at your house, mail you letters, and call you constantly. Is there anything they can’t do? Luckily, there is something called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. This Act sets boundaries around how far debt collectors can go to get a payment. So while there are many things the debt collectors can do, there are limits.
Debt collectors typically aren’t allowed to contact people close to you more than once. They also aren’t allowed to say that they are attempting to collect on a debt. However, they can contact the following parties to attempt to obtain your address, phone number, or other contact information:
- Your employer
- Your family members (including extended family)
- Friends or Acquaintances
Again, while debt collectors can call your family and others, there is a limit to what they can ask. Typically, debt collectors will say that they are trying to reach you about a private financial matter. This is a perfectly legal thing to do. If they move on to discuss your debt, that is where they cross the line into illegal debt collection practices.
There is a small exception to this rule. If you are a minor, debt collectors can contact your parents or legal guardians and explicitly discuss your debt. They are also able to directly discuss your debt with your spouse or with an attorney you hired specifically to deal with debt. Other than these exceptions, debt collectors cannot discuss your debt with anyone. Take note and get statements from anyone who reports a debt collector contacted them and disclosed private information.
What Can Debt Collectors Not Do?
There is a list of things that debt collectors cannot do under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Here is a list of things that debt collectors cannot do when attempting to collect on your debt.
There is a limit to the number of times a debt collector can contact you each day. They also have to contact you during reasonable hours (between 8:00 AM and 9:00 PM). Debt collectors also cannot use vulgar language.
Debt collectors are not allowed to make threats in order to get you to pay anything. This can include threats of bodily harm, threats of vandalism, or even threats of arrest.
Lie About Who They Are
Because there is some information that you might want to keep hidden from debt collectors (for instance, if you are creating a court case that needs to remain hidden until the case), you need to be aware of who you are talking to about your debt. Debt collectors are not allowed to claim they work for a government agency like the Department of Justice or the U.S. Marshals. They also cannot pretend they are with consumer reporting or other kinds of surveying agencies.
Publicly Embarrass or Expose You
Debt collectors are only allowed to speak to you, your spouse, and potentially your attorney about your debt. Because of this, debt collectors are not allowed to publicly confront you in a way that would allow others to hear about your situation.
What Happens If Debt Collectors Don’t Follow The Rules?
It’s incredibly important that you take note any time a debt collector doesn’t abide by the FDCPA limits. If you are harassed or threatened by a debt collector, there is a chance that you can be compensated. Whether it ends in a dropped debt balance, or physical and emotional damages, there are many ways that the debt collectors’ malpractices can benefit you in the long run. Because of this, make sure you are documenting — and verifying with other witnesses — that a debt collector is acting illegally.
How Can I Get A Debt Collector To Stop Calling Me and My Family?
Don’t want debt collectors to call your family? Regardless of whether or not the debt collector is discussing things they aren’t supposed to, you can still get them to stop calling you. All you have to do is request — either verbally or with a written notice — that debt collectors no longer contact you. Doing this will legally require debt collectors to not contact you directly. While this might work in the short term, it might escalate the situation faster than you might have anticipated. After a debt collector is no longer allowed to contact the debtor, they might move to legal action through the court faster. Decide if this is a trade-off you are willing to make before you ask for the debt collector to stop contacting you.
Are There Ways To Get Out Of Debt?
If you want debt collectors to stop contacting you, but you don’t want to deal with being sued, there are other things you can do to get out of debt.
If you are able to set aside money each month to build up a lump sum, you might be eligible to settle your debt.
File for Bankruptcy
Whether filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will be protected from any lawsuit while you are in the lawsuit process. It is also likely that you come out the other side with less debt.
If you have the ability to make your payments, just not the discipline or organization, then debt management may help you get out of debt. A debt management counselor can help you organize your finances in a way that makes sense and allows you to pay off your debt faster.
Regardless of what you decide to do, make sure you are aware of what debt collectors are allowed to do and what they aren’t allowed to do. And if you have any questions about your rights with debt collectors, give our team a call at 833-272-3631! We would love to help you figure your way out of debt. You can also use our free Debt Relief Calculator below to see what option may be best for you moving forward.