Can a debt collector harass me at work?
Know your rights when it comes to collectors calling your job.
When you have debts that are past-due, it’s stressful enough. The last thing you need is to be dealing with your finances while you’re at work.
So can collection agents call you when you’re at work or is it illegal according to the FDCPA?
Short answer: It depends.
Is the caller really a collector?
The first distinction that needs to be made is whether your debt is in formal collections or if it’s still with the creditor. A collector is bound by the FDCPA, while a creditor is not. So if it’s just a creditor calling about a missed payment, then they aren’t bound by the FDCPA and can use any means to contact you. Collectors have to follow the rules, though.
It’s essential to note that some creditors actually have in-house collection departments. So even if you think you’re talking to the creditor, you may be talking to their collections department. If your debt is more than six months past due, check to be sure since this is usually when debts get written off and sent to a collector.
Have you made your position clear?
If a collector has (or finds) your office number, they’re actually allowed to call you at your job. The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act doesn’t prohibit work calls, per say.
Fact: Collection calls to you at your job aren’t illegal under the FDCPA unless you say so.
Instead, what it says it that you have a right to tell a collector that you cannot receive calls at certain times or on certain days – or, in this case, when you are at work. If you say you cannot receive calls, the collector is no longer allowed to call you at work. If they do, they violate your rights and you can file a complaint.
So once you tell a collector not to call you at work, they cannot call you.
Other work-related no-no’s
Another important work-related collection tactic is to call your job, not to speak with you, but to speak with your boss, your HR department or a co-worker. So is this illegal?
Again, it depends. A collector is allowed to call your office to confirm your contact information. In other words, if they’re hunting you down because you’re hiding and they think you work for a company, they can call to confirm whether you work there or not.
What they can’t do is call your boss or any other employee to tell them about a debt that you owe. Even when they call for contact information, they can’t tell them any specifics about how much you owe or to whom. Again, if a collector is taking this kind of tactic, it’s illegal and you should take action.