Debt Collection Privacy

Debt collection privacy is your right under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Learn what to do if debt collectors are contacting other people about your debts.

You are reading Debt Collection Answers Ch1-7 (Chapter 1, part 7). 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.

If a debt collector does not know how to get in touch with you, the FDCPA says that he can contact your employer, a neighbor, a relative, or someone else – but only to find out how to reach you. If the debt collector already has your contact information, he is violating the FDCPA if he contacts other people about your debt unless they cosigned for that debt.

When a debt collector contacts a third party, he must identify himself and explain that he is trying to get in touch with you; but cannot say why he wants to reach you. Also, the debt collector cannot indicate the name of the company he works for unless he is asked and cannot ask for any information about you besides your contact information.

In addition, debt collection privacy provisions in the FDCPA say that a debt collector cannot:

  • Call a third party more than once to obtain your contact information, unless the person who is called asks the debt collector to call back or unless the debt collector has reason to believe that the person gave him incorrect information.
  • Contact someone else about you using a postcard or an envelope that indicates it was sent by a debt collector.
  • Use deceptive means to try to locate you. For example, a debt collector cannot send you a notice that gives you the impression that you have won a prize along with instructions for how to verify your address in order to claim the prize.

Warning: Generally, a debt collector may talk with your current spouse about one of your past due debts even if your spouse did not cosign for the debt or is not a joint account holder. It can be difficult to hide past due debts from your husband or wife!

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