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When Can a Collection Agency Call Me?

On Behalf of | Feb 10, 2019 | Bankruptcy

Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), a collection agency can only engage in permissible communications when trying to get you to pay on a debt. This federal statute is intended to protect consumers like you from unfair, illegal, and abusive practices, so there are strict prohibitions on certain types of calls. An attorney can assist with stopping collection calls, but an overview of federal statutes should be helpful.

Calls to You Directly

Under the FDCPA, a debt collector is prohibited from:

  • Calling you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., a window that pertains to your time zone;
  • Communicating in ways intended to harass, insult, oppress, or abuse you;
  • Stating, either directly or through insinuation, that you committed a crime in not paying your debt;
  • Engaging in unfair practices to collect a debt, a standard that is very fact-specific;
  • Lying about his or her identity; and,
  • Ignoring a written request from you, ordering the agency to cease further communications.

Note that the protections of the FDCPA only extend to third-party collection agencies. They do not apply if the original creditor is trying to get payment. Since many original creditors assign their interests to collection agencies, it is important to know the distinction when you are receiving calls.

Communications at Your Place of Work

The FDCPA also bans certain types of phone calls to your employer or to you while you are at work. For instance, collection agencies cannot:

  • Call you at your place of employment if they know or should know that your employer does not allow such communications;
  • Continue efforts to call your employer after one conversation, unless your employer permits them;
  • Disclose their identity or the reason for the call, as they are only allowed to confirm your contact information and place of work; and,
  • Engaging in other violations of the FDCPA.

Calls Related to Wage Garnishments

If a collection agency has already sued you in court and obtained an Iowa wage garnishment order, there is a completely different set of rules that applies to communications to your employer. The debt collector can – and definitely will – call your place of work to address the arrangements for the wage garnishment.

Prohibitions After Filing for Bankruptcy

Though you may consider it an extreme resolution for dealing with debt, filing for bankruptcy is a strategy that ensures a collection agency must cease contacting you. Under the US Bankruptcy Code, an “automatic stay” goes into effect the day you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. Creditors cannot contact you for any reason unless and until the court allows it.

Speak with a Knowledgeable Lawyer About Prohibited Debt Collection Efforts

If collection agencies are calling you and your employer, please contact Telpner Peterson Law Firm, LLP to discuss options to stop these collection efforts. You do have rights as a consumer under various state and federal laws. You may also want to review your options regarding bankruptcy, and our attorneys can tell you whether Chapter 7 or 13 is a good fit. You can reach our Council Bluffs, IA office at 712-309-3738 or go online to set up a consultation today.