The Common Law
Harassing debt collectors: What are your rights? (part 2)
Can the debt collection agency call me at work?
Debt collectors can contact you at your place of employment unless the collector knows or has reason to know that your employer prohibits these types of calls. Once the debt collector knows your employer prohibits contact at the office, the collector must stop calling your workplace.
Can the debt collector talk with other people besides me regarding my debt?
It depends. As a general rule, the debt collector should not communicate with other people regarding your debt. There are, however, a few limited circumstances when a debt collector is permitted to contact other people. For example, a debt collector can call someone else if the purpose is to find out how to locate you. This commonly occurs when the debt collector calls someone to get your new address if you have moved. During these discussions, the debt collector must not indicate that you are in debt or say anything that would otherwise embarrass you. Another relevant example applies when you have given your consent to the debt collector to contact other people.
What types of things would be considered harassment or abuse?
There are numerous types of harassing or abusive behavior. Some of the more common examples are physical threats of harm or threats to damage the debtor's reputation. The use of profane or obscene language is also considered harassing or abusive.
Can I prevent the debt collector from calling me in the future?
Yes. According to federal law, a debt collector must stop communication with a consumer once the consumer notifies the debt collector in writing (use certified mail) that the consumer wants communication to end. Once you have done this, the debt collector can only contact you to let you know what his next steps will be to recover the debt.
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Marrs, Ellis & Hodge LLP, www.jmehlaw.com.
The material in this column is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute, nor is it a substitute for, legal advice. For advice on your specific facts and circumstances, consult a licensed attorney. You may wish to contact the Lawyer Referral Service of Central Texas, a non-profit public service of the Austin Bar Association, at 512-472-8303 or www.austinlrs.com.