A consumer debt collector is calling my friends and family regarding my debt – can they do that?
Under federal law, 15 USC § 1692, a debt collector may contact a person other than the consumer for the purpose of acquiring information about your location and only under certain conditions. If they do contact a third party to determine your whereabouts, the debt collector must:
(1) identify himself, state that he is confirming or correcting location information about the consumer, and, only if expressly requested, identify his employer;
(2) not state that the consumer owes any debt;
(3) not communicate with any such person more than once unless requested to do so by such person or unless the debt collector reasonably believes that the earlier response of such person is erroneous or incomplete and that such person now has complete or correct information;
(4) not communicate by postcard;
(5) not use any language or symbol on any envelope or in the contents of any mail or telegram communication that indicates that the debt collector is in the debt collection business or that the communication relates to the collection of a debt; or
(6) after the debt collector knows the consumer is represented by an attorney and has knowledge of or can determine the attorney’s name address, not communicate with anyone other than the attorney unless the attorney fails to respond within a reasonable period of time to the communication of the debt collector.
The debt collector is calling me at all hours of the morning and night at home and at work – can they do that?
Under federal and South Carolina law, a debt collector cannot communicate with the consumer (unless you consent or by order of the court):
(1) at any unusual place or time or a time or place known or which should be known to be inconvenient to the consumer. In the absence of circumstances to the contrary, a debt collector shall assume that the convenient time for communicating with the consumer shall be between 8:00 am and 9:00 pm, consumer’s local time; or
(2) at work if the debt collector knows or has reason to know that the consumer’s employer prohibits the consumer from receiving such communication (like personal calls).
I’ve told the debt collector to stop calling me (or that I will not pay), but they keep calling – can they do that?
(1) the communication is to advise you that the debt collector is ceasing is efforts to collect the debt; or
(2) to notify you that they will be pursuing contractual or legal remedies they may have.
Under what circumstances would the methods of a debt collector be considered harassment?
Among other things:
(1) using or threatening to use violence or other criminal means to harm the physical person, reputation, or property of any person;
(2) using obscene or profane language or language the natural consequence of which is to abuse the hearer or reader;
(3) publishing a list of consumers who allegedly refuse to pay debts, except, generally, to a consumer reporting agency; and
(4) 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.
The debt collector told me he was going to have me arrested – can the debt collector do that?
No. A debt collector may not use any false, deceptive, or misleading representations such as:
(1) falsely representing or implying that the debt collector is vouched for, bonded by, or affiliated with the United States or any State, including the use of any badge, uniform, or facsimile thereof;
(2) falsely representing or implying that any individual is an attorney or that any communication is from an attorney;
(3) representing or implying that nonpayment of any debt will result in the arrest or imprisonment of any person or the seizure, garnishment, attachment, or sale of any property or wages of any person unless such action is lawful and the debt collector creditor intends to take such action;
(4) threatening to take any action that cannot legally be taken or that is not intended to be taken;
(5) falsely representing or implying that the consumer committed any crime or other conduct in order to disgrace the consumer; or
(6) communicating or threatening to communicate to any person credit information which is known or which should be known to be false, including the failure to communicate that a disputed debt is disputed.