Having collectors come after you for a debt can be a traumatic experience. It’s
embarrassing enough to receive calls from a debt collector and to have to tell them that
you can’t pay for the debt. Imagine how mortifying it would be if the debt collector called
a third party, such as a friend or family member, and spoke to them about your debt.
Although the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDPCA”) allows debt collectors to
contact third parties, it makes it illegal for these collectors to say anything that might
indicate that you owe a debt.
Under the FDCPA, a debt collector may not communicate with any person other than
you about the debt, unless: 1) you previously told the debt collector directly that such
communication is allowed, 2) a court expressly allows such third-party communication,
or 3) it is necessary to carry out a court judgment.
However, a debt collector may communicate with a third party to gain location
information about you. Fortunately, the FDCPA provides strict instructions that limit
what the debt collector may discuss with the third party. The FDCPA requires that the
• identify himself,
• say that he is confirming or correcting your location information,
• identify his employer only if asked by the third party,
• not say that you owe any debt,
• not communicate with the third party more than once unless: 1) the third party requests
future communication, or 2) the debt collector reasonably believes that the
earlier response was wrong or incomplete AND that the third party now has the correct
or complete location information,
• not make the communication using a postcard, and
• not use any language or symbol on the outside of the envelope that might indicate
that the communication relates to the collection of a debt or that the sender is in the
debt collection business.