FAQs – Collections & Collection Agencies

Can a collection agency contact my friends or family?
In short, yes.

When you sign for a loan or other credit service you usually have to provide “references.” The purpose of the references is so that in the event the company you owe is unable to contact you, they have a source to attempt to obtain your new location or information from. The company/collection agency is prohibited from disclosing that they are a collection agency, that you owe a debt, or any other personal information. It is common for the representative on the other end to simply state that they cannot divulge any details and/or that it is in regards to a business matter.

If the company/collection agency does divulge this information, then they may be in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act §804, which states how information may be obtained about the debtor and what information can be shared to parties other than the debtor.

Can a collection agency call me at work?

In short, yes. When a collection agency calls you at work, it’s usually because they are unable to reach you at your home phone number. It is only a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) §805(a)(3) if the collection agency knows that your employer does not allow such communications on the job.

You can send a letter to the collection agency requesting that they no longer contact you at work or that they no longer contact you at all via the telephone. Simply send a letter (preferably via certified mail) to the agency or company you owe requesting that they cease and desist communications. If the collection agency fails to comply, then they will have violated the FDCPA §805(c).

Can a collection agency make legal threats?

Yes. There is a limit to what they can threaten you with, though. Per the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) §806, the following is conduct is considered a violation:

  1. The use or threat of use of violence or other criminal means to harm the physical person, reputation, or property of any person.
  2. The use of obscene or profane language or language the natural consequence of which is to abuse the hearer or reader.
  3. The publication of a list of consumers who allegedly refuse to pay debts, except to a consumer reporting agency or to persons meeting the requirements of section 603(f) or 604(3)1 of this Act.
  4. The advertisement for sale of any debt to coerce payment of the debt.
  5. Causing a telephone to ring or engaging any person in telephone conversation repeatedly or continuously with intent to annoy, abuse, or harass any person at the called number.
  6. Except as provided in section 804, the placement of telephone calls without meaningful disclosure of the caller’s identity.

Furthermore, §807 of the FDCPA states other actions that may not be taken by a debt collector or collection agency.

Does a collection agency or company have to accept partial payments?

No.  Some think that just because you make a partial payment that a company or debt collector has to accept it and that they cannot take any legal action. This belief is completely false. When you signed up for the service or purchased a product, you agreed that you would pay the amount specified in the contract on time.  Making partial payments could be considered a breach of contract.  By not making full payments as originally agreed to, the company would be well within their rights to seek the appropriate legal action against you.

If you are truly having financial difficulties and explain this to the company/collection agency, then they may work out a deal with you. In addition, if you truly have financial difficulties and can only pay the partial payment, it would not look good for them by taking you to court. There would truly be no purpose in doing so. However, they would still have the legal right to do so. Not only do you legally owe the company, but it can also be considered breach of contract.

I keep getting calls at all hours of the day. Is there anything I can do about it?

Yes you can!

Any company that you owe or collection agency that is attempting to collect a debt on behalf of a company you owe must collect the debt in accordance with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Per the FDCPA §805(a)(1) it states that “…a debt collector shall assume that the convenient time for communicating with a consumer is after 8 o’clock antimeridian and before 9 o’clock postmeridian, local time at the consumer’s location;” In other words, the debt collector can only contact you between these hours.

Please note that this is your local time. I have seen collection agencies try act like it’s their local time and not the debtors. In this incident, the collection agency was located in California and was calling someone I know that lives in Louisiana. The call was placed at almost 10 PM local time. The collection agency attempted to say that it was still legal because it was not 9 PM their time yet. You can read the details of this section in “Communication in connection with debt collection

You can notify a collection agency that you no longer want to be contacted by phone. This does not get rid of the debt. It only stops the collection agency or company you owe from calling you. Simply send a letter (preferably via certified mail) requesting that they no longer call you. This is in accordance with the FDCPA §805(c).

What can I do when a collection agency has violated my rights?

There are a few options. First and foremost, if a collection is even borderline violating your rights, tell them. You have to stand up to collection agencies. Debt collectors and collection agencies will continue to trample on your rights until you stand up to them.

Everyone knows that you can get an attorney and file suit against the collection agency, however, there are other things that you can do.

The FTC may not initially act upon your complaint, however, the more people that file a complaint about a company, then the more evidence the FTC has to prosecute the unethical businesses.