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Know your rights: Debt collector can call at work until you tell him to stop

By By Richard Alderman
May 5, 2012 at 12:05 a.m.


Can a debt collector call a person at work? I work as a receptionist for a company that often gets collection calls for an employee who works here. This person is unable to take the calls because he works out in the field. The calls are very harassing because they are often rude and have even resorted to calling me names because of my refusal to take these kinds of messages. What can be done to stop these calls?

Based on what you say, my opinion is the debt collector is violating federal law.

First, until a consumer tells a debt collector he is not allowed to receive calls at work, the collector has the right to call. You don't say whether the employee told the collector to stop, so the mere act of calling may not be wrongful.

Federal law, however, prohibits a debt collector from discussing the consumer's debt with anyone else, harassing anyone or even telling third parties he is calling about a debt.

I suggest the employee send a certified letter demanding the debt collector stop this conduct and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. He may even want to speak with a private attorney about a lawsuit under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Richard Alderman, a consumer advocate popularly known as "the People's Lawyer," is a professor at the University of Houston Law School in Houston. His column appears weekly in the Victoria Advocate. Write to him at UH Law Center, Houston, Texas 77204-6391. He also maintains a Web page at peopleslawyer.net.

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