Can a Debt Collector Call Your Family Members?

Consumers may experience call from family and friends who inquire as to whether the consumer is having problems paying their bills.  This is embarrassing for the consumer.  If it is a debt collector who is contacting the consumer’s family (other than spouses) and friends, then the debt collector may be breaking the law.

The FDCPA flatly prohibits a debt collector from engaging in collection communications with third parties: “A debt collector may not communicate, in connection with the collection of any debt, with any person other than the consumer…”  15 U.S.C. § 1692c(b); Evon v. Law Offices of Sidney Mickell, 688 F.3d 1015, 1025-26 (9th Cir. 2012); Thomas v. Consumer Adjustment Co., Inc., 579 F.Supp.2d 1290, 1296-1297 (E.D.Mo. 2008).

There are several exceptions in Section 1692c.  For example, if the debt collector is seeking contact information for a consumer then it generally gets to place one call to a third party to seek that information.  Unfortunately, however, many debt collectors will insist on calling these third parties even when they have a good address or phone number for the consumer.  This is likely illegal conduct.  The consumer can recover a statutory penalty of up to $1,000 and the debt collector will likely be required to pay the consumer’s attorneys’ fees.

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