Thursday, June 5, 2014

Can Debt Collectors Call Your Boss?

No one wants to look bad in front of the boss--and there are few things as embarrassing as having your boss discover that, not only do you have bad debts, but that debt collectors are so focused on recovering them that they're willing to call you at work. Sure, a debt collector can't just call up your boss and say, "I'm Dave from XYZ Collection Agency and your employee, Gina, owes us $3,000. Just thought you'd like to know." But the fact that a debt collector can't openly disclose your debt to your boss doesn't mean that your employer won't find out indirectly.

From a legal standpoint yes, a debt collector can call your boss, but only in its search for you. The collector may identify himself on the phone, but he cannot volunteer information about the company he works for--unless your boss asks for it. If your boss wants to know just who it is on the phone looking for you, the collector will disclose the name of his/her employer. Now that may be all fine and good if the collection agency's name is something elusive, like XYZ Corporation, but if its XYZ Collections or XYZ Acquisitions, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to make the leap from "A collection agency wants information about my employee" to "My employee must owe the collection agency a debt."
Collectors may call your boss.

Although your boss might be a big enough idiot not to put two and two together, its highly unlikely.

If the collection agency knows where you live and work, it no longer has a legal reason to call your boss directly, but the company will still try to call you. If a debt collector finds your work number, you can rest assured that you'll receive a barrage of collection calls throughout the day--especially if those calls frustrate you. The reasoning is simple: Once you're frustrated enough you'll agree to make a payment on the debt just to make the calls stop. This is particularly beneficial for the collector if the statute of limitations on your debt has expired. By making a payment, you once again make yourself vulnerable for a lawsuit.

Your boss will likely take notice if you start receiving a much higher-than-normal volume of personal calls at work and look into the matter. You don't want that to happen. The name of the game is keeping the boss in the dark when it comes to your personal business--and collection calls are very, very personal business.

How to Stop Collection Calls at Work

The FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from calling you at any time or place they know to be inconvenient for you. It also makes a special allowance for collection calls at work.

a debt collector may not communicate with a consumer in connection with the collection of any debt --..
at the consumer's place of employment if the debt collector knows or has reason to know that the consumer's employer prohibits the consumer from receiving such communication.

This means that all you have to do to stop collectors from calling you at work is to tell them that you are not allowed to take personal calls at work and that calling you at work is an inconvenience. Most collection agencies train their collectors to adhere to the FDCPA in order to avoid FDCPA-violation lawsuits.

Unfortunately, sometimes verbal communication doesn't go over very well with debt collectors. Unscrupulous third-party debt buyers may ignore your requests not to call you at work. This may be due to ignorance of the law, but whatever the reason, you can cover yourself and ensure a paper trail exists by notifying the collection agency in writing that you cannot receive collection calls at work. Send the notice Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested and keep the return card. This provides you with proof that the collection agency received the request if the harassing calls at work continue and you're forced to take legal action.

Debt Collectors Can Inform Your Boss About Your Debt After a Judgment

If a collection agency sues you and you don't show up in court with a defense, the court grants the collection agency a judgment against you by default. State laws vary, but a court judgment generally gives the collector the right to seize your assets. One common method creditors use to collect judgments is wage garnishment.

If a collection agency decides to garnish your wages, it no longer has to hide your debt's existence from your boss. The collector will serve your employer with a writ of garnishment or writ of execution, depending on your state. Your employer must then direct a portion of your paycheck to the judgment holder until the debt is either paid off, the judgment expires or you quit your job. As embarrassing as it may be for your boss to know that you are under a garnishment order due to an unpaid debt, your employer cannot fire you based on the garnishment alone. Strangely enough, your employer can fire you if you receive a second garnishment order. The moral of the story? if a collection agency is tailing you, tread carefully and act fast to keep your job stable and your boss oblivious.

Related Posts:

Can Bill Collectors Call Your Family?

What Happens If a Collection Agency Sues You and Wins?

Debt Collection Lawsuit Statute of Limitations By State

1 comment:

  1. It's a good idea to check your state's wage garnishment laws. If you don't make enough, they can't take anything. Rules also apply to bank accounts.

    If there's a judgment against you and it's a big surprise, start looking into the case details- were you properly served? Motion to Vacate a Judgment is an option.

    It's also a good idea to file a complaint with the CFPB at the same time you send the certified mail out.
    That's stopped calls from AMEX when they've said they're required to keep calling even after I've told them to cease.

    If they already know your contact information at home, there's no location acquisition excuse for them to be calling relatives, neighbors, employers.