Debt Collection Calls

Debt collection calls are strictly regulated under federal law. Learn more about your rights here.

You are reading Debt Collection Answers Chapter 1, part 6. If you did not start at the beginning of this free guide to dealing with debt collectors, please return to the Debt collection Answers introduction.

How, When and Where a Debt Collector Can Contact You

The FCDPA is very specific about how and when a debt collector can contact you about a debt and also places strict limits on where you can be contacted. For example, the law says that a debt collector can contact you about a debt using the phone or the mail but cannot use a postcard or an envelope that in any way indicates that a debt collector sent it.

Also, according to the FDCPA, debt collectors cannot contact you “at any unusual time or place or a time or place known or which should be known to be inconvenient.” Ordinarily, this means that a debt collector can only call you between 8 a.m. your time and 9 p.m. your time. However, if you let the debt collector know that being called during that time period is not convenient for you and if you tell him a better time to call, the debt collector must limit his calls to that other time. If the debt collector does not, he has violated the FDCPA.

For example, suppose you work a night shift and sleep each day until 3 p.m., so you don’t want to be called in the morning or early afternoon. If you explain your schedule to the debt collector and ask him to call you between 3:30 p.m. and midnight, but he continues to call you while you are sleeping, he is breaking the law.

A Florida court ordered a debt collection company to pay a consumer $2,500 in actual damages, $1,000 in statutory damages and $50,000 in punitive damages for calling the consumer late at night, threatening the consumer with arrest and for illegally contacting a third party about the consumer’s debt.

The FDCPA also says that a debt collector cannot call you at your place of work if he knows, or has reason to know, that your employer does not want you contacted there during working hours. Therefore, if you tell a debt collector, “My employer doesn’t want you to call me when I am at work,” the collector should not call you there again. If you tell the debt collector not to call you at work and he does anyway, he is violating the law.

Tip: If you want a debt collector to stop calling you at work, or to stop contacting you at an inconvenient time, put your request in writing and keep a copy of the letter for your records. Send your letter via certified mail, return receipt requested, so that you will have proof that the debt collector received it.
If a debt collector ignores your request to not contact you at work or at an inconvenient time, make note of that fact on your Collector Contact Worksheet and then get a free consultation with a consumer law attorney. Do this right away.

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