Are creditors allowed to call my family members when they can't get ahold of me and let them know why they are calling me?

Asked over 4 years ago - Frederick, MD

I just had two family members call me and say a creditor called them explaining why they are calling and that they were looking for me. I have no idea how this creditor got their house numbers when I don't even have them. Is this illegal, please let me know because that is personal business and i am very irritated and embarrassed that my family now knows of my personal business. Please let meknow.

Attorney answers (2)

  1. Shawn B Alexander


    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . The short answer is no. This a clear violation of the FDPCA.

    You will need to consult with a consumer protection or bankruptcy lawyer locally. Many lawyers on this site offer a free consultation and you might find one near you and make an appointment for specific legal counseling.

    1. Start keeping a detailed log of all calls and letters and a paper file of all information. Because persistent violations of the FDPCA are punishable by statutory fines and attorney’s fees under federal law, but you need hard evidence.

    2. Make a written demand that all further communications from creditors is in writing under 15 USC 1692 (c).
    The letter should also contain a dispute of the validity of the charges and include a demand for a complete accounting with signatures, and all contents of their file.
    The creditor then has 30 days to reply and they may not take any action until you have been sent the validation. Bear in mind that this may be motivation for the collector to work your account when the file comes to them from the original creditor with new information.

    3. Do not give them any personal information because that is how collectors decide on which accounts to recommend suing. Remember they may not tell the truth and will say just about anything to get a payment from you and that payment reaffirms the debt, gives them information about you and your bank and ability to pay.

    4. If you are going to make payments use money orders and not personal checks, wire transfers, money grams, or “check by phone” because if they find a bank account the collector will be more likely recommend a lawsuit the their legal department.

    5. All collections are negotiable; the original creditor has given up and is losing up to 50% on the face value already either by splitting any return or selling at a huge discount. In addition, the costs of a lawsuit although discounted still are a factor in the decision to settle with you.

    If you are going to settle mark the check “settled-in-full” at the very top back of the check and include a letter explaining you are offering a settlement, keep copies of everything.

    6. Get written confirmation of any payment plan the agency will accept before making a payment.

    7. Specify in writing that all payments will be applied to principle first.

    If you are ready to throw in the towel go see a local bankruptcy attorney and explore your options for federal protection. The protection will even look back 90 days from filing and get back money taken by the collectors.

    If your debt is with the government like the IRS or a State agency or for Child Support or taxes the rules will be different and you will need a local lawyer.

    DO NOT use a debt settlement service; most of them are scammers.

    I do not practice in your state and you will need to consult with a local lawyer for additional protection under your state law.

    I have pasted a link to the FDPCA to help you with your federal rights;

    You should read the FDPCA from the link above and become informed about your rights; this will help you and your lawyer.

    I hope this information and generic advice is helpful and If you found this helpful, please click the thumbs up below. Thanks.

    Good Luck

  2. Theodore Lyons Araujo


    Contributor Level 20


    Lawyer agrees


    Answered . What Are Debt Collectors Allowed to Do to Collect Debts? A: In general, debt collectors are allowed to make civilized contact with you to make arrangements for payment of the debt. If you fail or refuse to pay a valid debt, debt collectors are legally allowed to use legal process to collect the debt, including obtaining a judgment against you, wage garnishment or attachment of your bank accounts, investment accounts or real estate. Debt collectors are also allowed to credit-report a valid debt to the credit reporting agencies, so long as the credit reporting is accurate.

    What Are Debt Collectors Not Allowed to Do? There are many things that debt collectors are not allowed to do when collecting debts, even when the debts are valid debts. The following list is only a partial list of the things which debt collectors are not allowed to do when collecting debts:
    Debt collectors may not use threats of physical force or violence in collecting debts. They may not threaten criminal prosecution for non-payment of the debt. They may not threaten to tell uninvolved third persons about your debt in an effort to humiliate or embarrass you. They cannot use obscene or profane language when contacting you to collect debts. When a debt collector contacts you, he or she must correctly identify who they are, the purpose of the contact and the fact that it is an effort to collect a debt. Debt collectors cannot lie to you about who they are, who they work for or why they’re calling you. If they are not an attorney, they cannot represent to you that they are an attorney. Similarly, they cannot misrepresent to you that they are police officers, FBI officers, or sheriffs. They cannot cause a phone to ring continuously or repeatedly to harass you, and may not call you too frequently or at odd hours to harass you. Debt collectors generally can only call you between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m., unless you give them permission to call at some other time. With limited exceptions, debt collectors cannot contact your employer concerning the debt. With limited exceptions, debt collectors cannot call your family members about the debt.
    They cannot publish to anyone a “deadbeat’s list” of persons who allegedly have not paid their debts. If you advise a debt collector that you are represented by an attorney and wish to conduct all further discussions only through counsel, the debt collector must cease calling you and must thereafter only contact you through your attorney. If you advise a debt collector to cease communications with you, the debt collector must do so after advising you of any additional debt collection steps that may be taken. If your original contract with the creditor does not provide for attorney’s fees or other penalties, the debt collector cannot add these to the debt. Debt collectors cannot use fraudulent legal forms to collect debts. They cannot solicit post-dated checks and cannot accept checks post-dated by more than five days.
    Disclaimer: This answer does not constitute legal advice. I am admitted in the States of New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts Only and make no attempt to opine on matters of law that are not relevant to those three States. This advice is based on general principles of law that may or may not relate to your specific situation. Facts and laws change and these possible changes will affect the advice provided here. Consult an attorney in your locale before you act on any of this advice. You should not rely on this advice alone and nothing in these communications creates an attorney client relationship. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author only and the fact that he has worked as an Assistant District Attorney; State Supreme Court Clerk; Special Assistant United States Attorney (Hawaii); Assistant Cornell University Counsel or Judge Advocate, United States Marine Corps should not be relied upon to assume that these statements reflect the policy of these organizations.

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