Being in debt can be overwhelming and stressful—especially when your family finds out about your financial struggles. If you have unpaid student loan debt or have recently defaulted on your student loans, it’s likely you’ll start getting calls from a debt collector. Dealing with debt collection agencies is not a fun process. Not only are debt collectors annoying, but they can also go to extreme lengths to embarrass you—such as speaking to your family members about your finances.
While debt collectors are technically legally prohibited from contacting your family directly, they may “accidentally” come into contact with them. For example, if you live with your family and they happen to answer the phone when a debt collector calls, the debt collector may choose to talk to your family member about your debt. However, while this is a convenient loophole some debt collectors use to embarrass borrowers, they are still prohibited from giving out too much information about your debt to anyone but you.
Unfortunately, when communicating with borrowers, many debt collectors engage in unlawful, harassment-like behaviors. If you feel like you’re being harassed by a debt collection agency, it’s important to know your rights and take action. Working with a skilled creditor harassment lawyer is the best way to ensure your rights are upheld in debt settlement proceedings.
How Can Debt Collectors Contact Your Family?
Usually, debt collectors start their communication efforts by trying to contact you directly and work out a way for you to start paying off your debt. If they are unable to reach you, then they may start to use other methods to get a hold of you. These methods can include contacting your family members. How can debt collectors get a hold of your family’s contact information? These days, you don’t have to go much further than the internet to find a person’s address or contact information.
Are Debt Collectors Legally Allowed to Contact Your Family Members?
In response to a growing number of borrower complaints on scare tactics employed by debt collectors, the federal government passed The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), which outlines strict rules debt collectors must follow in all their communications. While the FDCPA does not make it illegal for debt collectors to communicate with your family members, it does place strict limits on what they can say.
Under the FDCPA, debt collectors are only legally allowed to contact your family members to locate you, but not to collect your debt. Additionally, the law allows debt collectors to only contact each of your family members one time. The only exception to this rule is if they believe the information provided to them by one of your family members was false.
The Legal Limits on Debt Discussions with Family Members
Legally, there are only a handful of situations in which it is legal for debt collectors to discuss your debt with a family member. In accordance with the FDCPA, debt collectors can only discuss your student loan debt with the following entities:
- Your spouse
- Your parents, but only if you are under 18
- Your guardian or executor
If you become aware that a debt collector has discussed the specifics of your debt with any family member not included in this list, then you can pursue legal action against them.
Why Do Debt Collectors Reach Out To Borrowers’ Family Members?
Debt collectors attempt communications with borrowers’ family members for a variety of reasons. However, by far the most common reason is that they have not been able to get in touch with the borrower and are looking for a way to do so. Often, debt collectors believe that contacting a borrower’s family member will push them to pay off their unpaid debt. Most people don’t want their close family or friends to know about their financial struggles, which is why many debt collectors find this to be an effective persuasion tactic.
How to Get Debt Collectors to Stop Calling Your Family
The easiest way to get debt collectors to stop calling your family members is to pay your debt. However, if this is not an option, you have the right to request that the debt collector ceases communications with you and your family about your debt. To do this, you’ll have to write and send them a cease and desist. If after sending in this letter, a debt collector fails to stop communication with you, you might want to consider speaking with an attorney. You can choose to file a lawsuit against a debt collector if they violated your rights.
Contact a Skilled Creditor Harassment Attorney
Unfortunately, creditor harassment is a common problem. If you have student loans you are struggling to pay and suspect you will be contacted by a debt collector, it is important to know your rights.
At McCarthy Law, we protect your rights and work with your bank or lender to negotiate a debt settlement. Our team works tirelessly to ensure our clients get a settlement that fits their financial situation. To schedule a consultation with a knowledgeable and experienced debt settlement paralegal, call our office at (855) 976-5777 or fill out an online contact form today.