The answer to whether a collection agency can contact your employer is far from easy. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), there are permissible communications when a company is trying to collect on a debt – and other circumstances where this practice is forbidden. You should seek assistance from an attorney to stop collection calls and garnishments, but also be aware of how federal laws protect you from unfair collection practices.
Overview of the FDCPA: The federal statute governs how collection agencies and other third-parties can seek payment on consumer financial obligations. The FDCPA covers a wide range of debt accounts, including car loans, mortgages, medical bills, credit cards, lines of credit, and many other arrangements. There are two special considerations you should note:
- The FDCPA only applies to agencies trying to collect on a debt. The original creditor is not subject to the collection rules of the law.
- The statute only covers debts regarding consumer obligations. Any debts you incur through your business is a separate issue.
Rules on Contacting Your Employer: Among the many prohibitions protecting consumers, the FDCPA bars a collection agency from contacting your employer under certain circumstances. For example:
- A debt collector can only contact third parties, including the company you work for, to obtain contact and address information about you.
- Collection agencies can talk to your employer to confirm that you work there.
- A debt collector cannot contact your work more than one time, unless your employer consents to additional calls.
- Collection agents are prohibited from discussing the reason for calling your employer, and cannot reveal their identity.
Regardless of these prohibitions, collection agencies can contact your employer if they have already obtained a wage garnishment order from an Iowa court. However, the only way of getting such an order is if the agency already went to court and got a judgement against you. You would likely be aware of this lawsuit because the debt collector would have served you with legally required paperwork. Note that the Consumer Credit Protection Act bars your employer from firing you for receiving a single order for a wage garnishment.
Other Communications in the Workplace: Under certain circumstances, the FDCPA also prohibits collection agencies from making calls to you individually while you are at work. Debt collectors cannot contact you at your place of employment if they know or should be aware that your employer does not allow these types of calls.
In addition, the FDCPA prohibits a collection agency from attempting to contacting you after you have submitted a written request to cease further efforts. A cease and desist letter can prevent a debt collector from reaching you at work, at home, or via your cell phone number.
Consult with an Experienced Attorney Regarding Unfair Debt Collection Practices
Debt collectors can be pushy, but there are limits on their efforts to collect a debt. If you believe you were the target of misconduct, please contact Telpner Peterson Law Firm, LLP at 712-309-3738 or through our website. We can discuss your options and explain strategies to resolve debt issues after conducting a consultation at our Council Bluffs, IA office.