Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and Phone Harassment
Debt buyers, private companies that purchase consumer debt for pennies on the dollar and then do whatever it takes to collect that debt, have taken telephone harassment to new levels. Calling a debtor’s coworkers and neighbors is a common practice for debt buyers; however, it is against the law and you can fight back!
Today’s Telephone Harassment Practices
Telephone harassment by debt buyers is very common and very aggressive. One client said that the debt buyer called and said that they were sending a marshal over to take her car. Although that’s absolutely illegal and can’t happen – guess what? It caused her to go to her dad and have him pay $1,700 on a debt that she didn’t owe. So it’s pretty darn effective, which is why they do it.
Block and Office Parties: Embarrassing & Illegal
The industry has coined a couple of terms that debt buyer collectors use – the block party and the office party. All these tactics are illegal and violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre27.pdf
Let’s explain what each of the terms means:
- Block party. A block party is when a debt buyer may call five or ten of the debtor’s neighbors. Through a program, they’re able to get the phone numbers and names of neighbors, call them and tell them things like, ‘Hey Joe, your neighbor at such-and-such an address, we’ve been trying to get a hold of him because we have some really important information for him. Could you go over and have him call us?’ They’ll call around the neighborhood and all these concerned neighbors will run over to Joe’s house and tell him that he has to call this person because something horrible is going on.
- Office party. An office party is very similar. By making phone calls, the debt buyer is able to find out the name of the individual’s employer and other employees that he works with. They’ll call the other employees in the office and make up another similar story such as he’ll lose his car if he doesn’t call or that the police may come and arrest him. Now, all of a sudden, everybody at the office knows there’s a problem. The debt collector may make up some fictitious problem, but may just disclose the fact that there’s a debt that’s unpaid.
Both of these violates the law and either one is actionable so you can file a law suite.
Debt Collectors Cannot Call Debtors’ Cell Phones Without Permission
Calling cell phones without permission is one of those measures. Debt collectors absolutely cannot call a debtor on his or her cell phone without permission. If the debtor did not give the collector his or her cell number and permission to call it, that debtor can make a claim. The collector has violated both federal and state laws and the debtor may be able to collect money damages from the collector. There are Attorneys who specialize in the defense of these laws and vigorously pursue firms that break thee laws. Just be sure to weigh the cost to go after the company versus what you’ll get in damages.
I personally like to teach people how to set up a Google Voice line and switch their phone contact info with all credit obligations to this line. With Google Voice, you can screen and block calls.
See our Blog dated Jan 27, 2011 titled Google Voice puts you in control or Friend us on Face Book at How To Save Money 360 where we post consumer protection documents.