When you’re under financial stress, the last thing you need is to be worried about losing your primary source of income. When debt collectors repeatedly call you at work, contact your co-workers or superiors, share information about your debt with your employers or otherwise make life at work difficult for you and your colleagues, you may fear that your job is at risk.
Debt collectors know that. Some will take advantage of your fear and embarrassment, harassing you at work in hopes that either your own discomfort or pressure from your employer will prompt you to agree to their payment terms. In a recent segment of “Last Week Tonight,” a debt collector even admitted to routinely calling debtors’ bosses at home to turn up the pressure.
Fortunately, federal law protects you from this type of debt collector action.
The FDCPA and Contact at Work
Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), a debt collector is prohibited from contacting you at work if the debt collector knows or has reason to know that your employer prohibits such communication. There are a number of ways that a debt collector could learn of your employer’s objection and thus be prohibited from calling you at work. For example:
- You could advise the debt collector in writing of your employer’s policy
- The person who answers the telephone at your place of employment could advise the caller that you are not allowed to receive personal calls during work hours
- Your supervisor could take the call and request that the caller not contact you at work again
Debt Collectors May Not Contact You at Inconvenient Times and Places
Debt collectors are also generally prohibited from contacting you “at a time or place known or which should be known to be inconvenient to the consumer.” While this prohibition won’t apply to every employee in every work situation, there are many jobs in which being called to the phone is in itself inconvenient. If you’ve advised the debt collector that it is disruptive when you’re contacted at work—for example, you have to be called off of the warehouse floor and into the office to take the call, leaving your work unattended—this provision may also prevent the debt collector from calling you at work.
Disclosure of Information to Third Parties Under the FDCPA
As I explained in detail in a previous post, the FDCPA places significant limitations on debt collectors providing information about your debt to third parties. The debt collector may not share information about your debt with most third parties, and is not even allowed to leave a message for you with a third party. With limited exceptions, such as service of a wage garnishment order, that restriction includes your employer.
If You’re Being Harassed by Debt Collectors at Work, Talk to an FDCPA Attorney
When debt collectors violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, you have options. In some cases, you may even be entitled to money damages from the debt collector. Don’t tolerate illegal actions that cause stress for you at work. Call us at (562) 257-6576 or send us a message.