Has a debt collector contacted your employer about a debt you allegedly owe? It may feel like they are overstepping their bounds, but It’s typically legal for debt collectors to contact your employer. In most cases, though, they can’t reveal any details about your debt or the nature of their call.
The Law on Collector Contact With Your Employer
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act allows debt collectors to contact certain third parties, including employers, only to get contact and location information about you. This means that debt collectors can contact your employer to confirm your employment. They might get your employer's contact information from your credit report, the original creditor, or from another third party.
Even though debt collectors can contact your employer, there are limits on what they're allowed to discuss. Debt collectors are also limited on the number of times they can contact any third party. A debt collector can only contact your employer once unless the employer gives permission for them to make contact again or the collector believes the employer gave them false information.
Although the collector has the legal right to find out information about you, they also have a legal obligation not to give out information about why they're calling. Whenever a debt collector contacts any third party to get your contact information, including your employer, they’re not allowed to reveal that they’re a debt collector or that they’re collecting a debt.
In many cases, debt collectors will only contact your employer if they can’t contact you. So if you’ve been dodging their calls and letters, there’s a greater chance that collectors will start looking for you elsewhere. Paying or settling the debt collection will cease all current and future debt collector communications.
You're allowed to request proof of a debt collection before paying by sending a debt validation letter. Collectors have to cease collection efforts until they respond to your request by providing verification of the debt from the original creditor.
Debt Collectors Calling You at Work
In their efforts to get you to pay, debt collectors can contact you at work unless they know or should know your employer doesn’t allow you to accept those types of calls at work. You only have to inform the collector that you can’t receive personal calls at work and they’ll no longer contact you there. However, if the collector doesn’t have any other contact information for you, they may call your friends, neighbors, or family to figure out how to get in touch with you.
Your Rights With Your Employer
Although, debt collectors aren't allowed to share information about collection accounts with your employer, it's possible your boss could find out in other ways. If you’ve given your employer permission to check your credit report—for example, if you’re up for a promotion or salary increase—they’ll learn about any collection accounts you have. Whether the collection will be used against you will depend on your employer, the position or raise for which you’re being considered, and the laws in your state.
Impact of a Wage Garnishment
The debt collector can also contact your employer after they’ve gotten a court order to garnish your wages. In most cases, a wage garnishment can only happen after the debt collector has won a lawsuit judgment against you and has gained permission from the court to garnish your wages. Thanks to the Consumer Credit Protection Act, your employer can’t fire you for just one wage garnishment. But, if you have multiple garnishments, the law doesn’t protect your job.
Most debt collectors can only garnish your wages after winning a lawsuit against you, but there are some exceptions. If you receive a lawsuit summons, contact an attorney for the best next steps. Note that the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act establishes a statute of limitations for the filing of a lawsuit by a creditor. If the time period has expired it means you can no longer be sued, but it does not absolve you of the debt.
How to Stop Debt Collector Contact
Use a debt validation letter to delay collectors by forcing them to send proof that the debt is yours and that they’re authorized to collect it from you. It’s also a good idea to request validation on debts that you don’t believe you owe.
You can use a cease and desist letter to stop debt collector calls for a particular collection agency. Note that debt collector calls may resume if another collection agency purchases or is assigned to that debt. It's also important to note that stopping calls from collections agencies will not absolve you of any debts you are legally obligated to pay.