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I'm in a debt settlement program. Can debt collectors contact me, even though I've asked them to speak with my authorized rep?

Lawton, OK |

I have given temporary limited power of attorney to my debt settlement company. One law firm in my state has called me several times threatening to sue me if I do not settle the account. I have repeatedly asked the law firm's representaive to speak with my authorized representative at the debt settlement company, yet she continues to call me threatening to take this case to court.

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Attorney answers 5


To invoke Fair Debt Collection Act protections the request to cease and desist personal telephone contact from a debt collector must be made in writing. They can continue to call you after that only if the third party contact you provided fails to respond to their attempts to discuss the matter.


If the collectors keep calling, please write down their firm name, telephone number and their name if they give it to you. Watch out for threats such as: 1) they will take all your property if you do not pay the same day; or 2) that they have a sheriff with them and they are coming to get all your property, or 3) that they will put you out in the street or 4) that they will call your boss and do so, and 5) repeatedly call you every five minutes or with similar frequency, all these are severe violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). If the collectors continue to bother you after you, after your representative sent them a letter telling them to leave you alone, then you must contact a Consumer lawyer in your state and file a case against the collector for violation of the FDCPA. If you prevail, you will be entitled to statutory damages and your attorney may collect his fees from the collector. In some severe instances you may be entitled to emotional distress damages. It all depends on the facts of your case. Recent decisions show, that the collectors are entitled to call you within reasonable hours and to send you a letter notifying you of your debt, but harassment of the nature described above is not allowed. Please write if you wish more information.

I am licensed only in California. This information is good only in California and it is not to be taken as legal advise in any other type of situation.


Yes, they can continue to call you. You indicate that you "asked" them to speak to a representative. Asking is not the same as putting this request in writing in a letter sent to them via certified mail. return receipt requested.

As noted by my colleague, you have the right under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) to dispute the debt and not contact you at work. You also have the right to tell them not to contact you further. While you can give the debt collector to speak to third-parties like a debt settlement rep. about the debt, nothing in the FDCPA REQUIRES the debt collector to actually speak to the third-party. However, if you tell the debt collector, in writing, that you are represented by an attorney, then the debt collector cannot contact you any longer. See FDCPA 15 § 1692c.
You indicate that you are working with a debt settlement company, but do they have an lawyer for you? If so, why doesn't the attorney write them a creditor harassment letter indicating that the attorney is representing you, that all further contact with you must cease and that any further calls have to be directed to the attorney? I do that for my clients if its needed.
If the debt settlement company is not doing this for you then I would say the debt settlement company is not really doing its job properly. They should be helping you with this. If they are not, then look for a debt settlement company that will.

And I find it very hard to believe that a law firm has called you threatening to sue. There are lots of debt collectors out there. Some will impersonate attorneys. Others are real law firms that have debt collection divisions staffed by non-attorney debt collectors. Real law firms never threaten. They act. They send a letter attempting to collect the debt. If nothing is done, then they sue.

If you want to rattle the idiot's cage next time do the following: (1) ask who is calling and if the call is recorde; (2) if an attorney, then get the state bar number for the attorney and state of admission and indicate that you will verify with that state's bar; (3) advise them that you have consulted with an attorney regarding this matter and have been thoroughly apprised of your rights. Tell them they are in violation of the law. (4) If you have sent a written debt dispute letter to them, ask if received. In the letter did it say they are not to contact you or to contact a rep.? If they received, ask them why they are still contacting you. (5) Tell them that you will advise your attorney of this. (6) Hang up.

You will get lots of stammering on the other end if its not a lawyer. They may even hang up on you (you know its a great day when they do that as it means you got to them and rattled their cage!). If you don't have an attorney, there are tons of attorneys who do FDCPA work. Find one in your state to send them a nasty letter for you.


We handle FDCPA violations in Oklahoma. We give free consultations and don't charge our clients if we take your case. Please feel free to call us.

The answer given does not imply that an attorney-client relationship has been established and your best course of action is to have legal representation in this matter.


If your goal is to stop all communication, send them a written letter telling them cease and desist all further communication with you. Send it by certified mail so you have proof they received it. Keep a copy of the letter for your records. A word of caution regarding "debt settlement" companies. Make sure you understand exactly what they have promised to do for you and what exactly your commitment is to them for the services. Be sure that any agreement you enter into for their services does not contain an arbitration clause or other clause wherein you agree to waive your right to jury trial if they(debt settlement) company doesn't live up to all the promises they made to earn your $ for their services. Why would any legitimate company doing business with a consumer insert an arbitration clause trying to keep secret their activites when a dispute arises? There are many predators out their that pose as "debt settlement" companies who end up taking a lot of your $ for little or no real benefit to you. Some but not all can make your situation worse.

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