“Can a collection agency call my neighbor” Florida consumers often ask. Many consumers complain “a collection agency called my neighbor.”
The short answer is “no”. A collection agency should not call your neighbor.
WHAT IS “LOCATION INFORMATION” UNDER THE FAIR DEBT COLLECTION PRACTICES ACT?
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) allows a collection agency to call a neighbor if the agency does not have what the FDCPA calls “location information”.
Once the collection agency has the “location information”, it should not be calling the consumer’s neighbors (or anyone else other than the consumer or the consumer’s spouse).
A debt collector has the “location information” once it knows either the consumer’s : (1) home address and telephone number; or (2) place of employment.
Once the debt collector has this location information, they can not call anyone other than the consumer (or the consumer’s spouse).
Although the FDCPA allows debt collectors to call third parties (usually only once) to obtain “location information”, debt collectors who begin by calling family, friends, neighbors, relatives, co-workers, or other persons usually violate the FDCPA.
Collection agencies who are seeking location information are restricted as to what they can say and are usually limited to one contact with the third party.
Collection agencies who aggressively (or even illegally) seek location information, also often venture far beyond the permissible subjects of conversation by disclosing the debt or leaving messages for the consumer with the third party.
If the collection agency already has the location information, the collection agency is violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by calling a neighbor even if the collector pretends to be requesting location information.
Collection agencies typically already have this location information and call the neighbor in order to harass the consumer borrower. Collection agencies who call neighbors seldom request location information about the consumer. Orlando FL consumers have contacted me after more than one neighbor told the consumer that a collection agency called their neighbors.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act applies only to debt collectors and does not apply to the original creditor. Fortunately for Florida residents, the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act provides some additional protection for consumers.
FLORIDA CONSUMER COLLECTION PRACTICES ACT
The Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (“FCCPA”) prohibits “any person” from :
Disclose to a person other than the debtor or her or his family information affecting the debtor’s reputation, whether or not for credit worthiness, with knowledge or reason to know that the other person does not have a legitimate business need for the information or that the information is false.
Florida Statutes, Section 559.72(5) (2016). (The phrase “any person” is broad enough to include original creditors in addition to debt collectors.)
HOW TO PRESERVE THE VALUE OF YOUR CASE
The collection agencies often violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act when they call third parties. If a neighbor tells you that they received a call about you from a collection agency, ask the neighbor to take a photo (if possible) of the caller Id information and write down the date, time, incoming telephone number and name from their caller ID. I also recommend that you do the same thing. This will show the pattern of the calls so that a FDCPA lawyer can evaluate your potential claims. A free collection harassment log is available by clicking on the highlighted portion of this sentence or clicking here : http://www.fdcpa.me/phone-harassment/
Readers are welcome to share their experiences with collection agencies who call them (about their neighbors) or their neighbors (about them).
If you are a Florida resident and collection agencies are contacting your neighbors, friends, relatives, references, or other people about a consumer debt that you allegedly owe, please complete the Collection Agency Harassment form in the right hand column or contact me by calling (407) 648 – 9050.
I will contact you to discuss your situation and how I can assist you in fighting the collection agency harassment.
If you are not a Florida resident, you are welcome to complete a Collection Harassment Form and I will provide you with resource(s) to help you identify an experienced FDCPA lawyer who is licensed to practice law in your state.
(C) 2011 – 2016 Donald E. Petersen
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