Notice: We are still operating during the COVID-19 crisis. However, we are not allowing visitors to our office and most of our staff is operating remotely. Our attorneys and staff are still available to help you by phone and email. If you get our voice mail, please leave a message and it will be returned promptly. There may be delays with mail due to the crisis, so please try to send documents by email after submitting a contact form here or fax to 312-419-0379, if possible.

Can Debt Collectors Call My Family?

Q. Can Debt Collectors Call My Family?

A. With one limited exception, no.

The types of calls that debt collectors can make is regulated by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”). The FDCPA generally prohibits debt collectors from contacting persons other than consumers who owe the debt, their spouses, the parent of a minor child, the guardian of a disabled person, and the personal representative of a deceased consumer (executor or administrator).

The one exception is if the debt collector does not have your current residence (“place of abode”) and your telephone number at such place, or your place of employment, they can contact third parties to obtain that information. However, what they can say to these third parties, and how often they can contact them, is extremely limited.

The FDCPA states that the debt collector can only “identify himself, state that he is confirming or correcting location information concerning the consumer, and, only if expressly requested, identify his employer.” The collector cannot state that the consumer owes any debt. He cannot communicate with the third person more than once unless requested to do so by such person or unless the debt collector reasonably believes that the earlier response of such person is erroneous or incomplete and that such person now has correct or complete location information. He cannot use a post card or use any language or symbol on the outside or inside of a written communication that indicates that the debt collector is in the debt collection business or that the communication relates to the collection of a debt. If the consumer is represented by an attorney, the collector must deal with that attorney.

Debt collectors who know where you are cannot contact third parties in the guise of “locating” you or leave messages with friends, relatives and neighbors asking them to have you call them (a tactic known in the collection industry as a “block party”).

If a debt collector violates your rights, you can sue and recover up to $1,000 statutory damages and any actual damages, including damages for embarrassment and aggravation. Since the FDCPA provides for the award of fees against a defendant, you do not have to pay us for reviewing or taking the case.

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