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Will a cease and desist letter stop bill collectors from calling family members?

July 10, 2013 | By |

Will a cease and desist letter stop bill collectors from calling family members?

A debt collector cannot refuse your written request that they cease and desist from further contact with you except for three very limited reasons. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) states that if you notify a debt collector in writing that you refuse to pay the debt or that you wish for the debt collector to cease further communication with you, the debt collector cannot communicate with you again. There are three minor exceptions to this rule. Regardless, you should receive no more than one final communication after making a cease and desist request. However, the section of the FDCPA which provides this right refers only to the “consumer,” which means you. The FDCPA does not specifically provide a method for you to request that the debt collector cease and desist from contacting your family. On the other hand, most contact with your family members by a debt collector is illegal.

The good news is the reasons why a debt collector can contact a third party regarding your debt are very limited. Debt collectors routinely violate these provisions in calls made to third parties, which can include family members, neighbors, friends, co-workers – basically anyone other than you or your spouse. A debt collector can speak with a third party only if they are attempting to locate you. If the debt collector has already contacted you (and therefore knows where to locate yet), any contact with third parties is illegal.

Even if the debt collector contacts your family member in an attempt to locate you, the collector cannot state the name of the collection agency for which he or she works unless asked. The debt collector cannot under any circumstances tell the third party that you owe a debt. The debt collector cannot contact the third party more than once, unless requested to do so or unless the debt collector believes that the location information given by the third party was wrong. Debt collectors commonly call family members to tell them a consumer owes a debt in the hope that will put pressure on the consumer to pay the debt. This is a clear violation of the FDCPA. The only other exception which allows a debt collector to contact a third party is with the permission of a court or to effect a post-judgment remedy against you (for example, to serve a wage garnishment on your employer after a court has entered a judgment against you, in accordance with court rules and procedures).

If a debt collector has contacted your family member, neighbor, friend, co-worker, or any other third party regarding a debt which they claim you owe, you could be entitled to up to $1000 in damages, plus payment of your attorneys fees and litigation costs. If your family member, neighbor, friend, co-worker’s rights under the FDCPA have been violated, he or she may have a claim against the debt collector as well. If any third parties have received voice mail or answering machine messages about your debt, SAVE THOSE MESSAGES. They will greatly help in the resolution of your claim.

For a free review of your situation, call us at (877) 846-1209 to speak with one of our experienced fair debt collection attorneys for a free case review.