A Story Of Why Debt Collectors Call Relatives Who Don’t Owe The Debt


I spoke with a friend yesterday about a situation and I thought it might be helpful to share with you. My friend mentioned to me that she was receiving calls, repeatedly, from a national debt collector looking for a relative.

My friend has told this company on several occasions that the relative they are looking for does not live there and that she is not going to provide any contact information to the debt collector.

The debt collector has called multiple times asking for the same information and has asked that my friend give a message to her relative about calling this debt collector back.

I want to make several observations about this.

First, it is normally illegal for a debt collector to contact what is known as a “third party” more than once asking for location information. A third party is anybody other than the debtor or their spouse.

Location information only includes address, home phone, and place of employment. Nothing else.

It is also illegal for a debt collector to ask a third party, such as my friend, to give a message to the consumer/debtor.

So as we look at what this debt collector did, we can see several illegal actions.

It has violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act against my friend by repeatedly calling her. The only explanation is to intend to annoy or harass her into paying the bill or to force her to get her relative to contact this company and pay the bill. This is illegal.

Another violation is by calling her repeatedly and by requesting more than just location information, this company has violated the rights of her relative. A consumer/debtor cannot be subjected to calls to third parties.

This is one of the more common violations of the FDCPA by collectors. They know this is illegal but they do it because it is so effective. The idea is to “wear out” a relative so that that relative will ultimately pay the debt that is supposedly owed or will cause the debtor to pay the debt. It’s also designed to present a lot of pressure on the debtor as naturally the debtor is very embarrassed by a relative receiving multiple calls about the debtor’s personal financial situation.

And that gets to the core of the matter-the whole purpose of this conduct is to bring illegal pressure to bear upon everybody affected. There is nothing wrong with collecting debts. There is nothing wrong with making collection calls. But it is wrong to violate the law in an effort to collect a debt. While debt collectors like to say that the “end justifies the means,” even they will admit that you cannot use profanity or make threats of physical violence or lie to a consumer or to a consumer’s family in order to get a debt paid.

The only way this type of conduct stops is by either the debt collector suddenly deciding that it wants to be a good corporate citizen and stop violating the law (I’m not putting any money on that one!) or it needs to be sued by either the relative or the debtor or both to get it to stop this illegal conduct.

If you live in Alabama and have questions about debt collectors and the way they are treating you, feel free to contact us through our website or by calling 205-879-2447.

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