This article was written by Lemberg Law staff, and reviewed by Sergei Lemberg, the managing attorney of Lemberg Law.
No. A debt collector is prohibited by law from coming to your place of work to collect a debt you owe.
Can a debt collector show up at my work?
People are understandably reluctant to talk about debt collector harassment. Even the thought of having a debt collector come to their workplace could prompt embarrassment and shame. They may be anxious that their boss and coworkers would respect them less and place less trust in their judgment. They may be afraid that having a debt collector show up at work could affect their performance reviews and promotion. opportunities. Unfortunately, they may be right.
To protect consumers from these potentially devastating consequences, the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibits a debt collector from physically coming to your place of work to collect on a debt you owe. Section 805 of the FDCPA governs a debt collector’s communications with third parties regarding your debt. The FDCPA defines personal visits as a type of “communication” and states that a debt collector may not publicize your debt. The act of coming to your workplace is recognized by federal law as having the effect of publicizing your debt and causing embarrassment.
This prohibition against publicizing your debt is so strong that if a debt collector calls your employer on the phone to get your contact information, they may not reveal that they are a debt collector or that you owe money.
What if a debt collector is coming to your work just to annoy you?
The FDCPA affords additional protections. If a debt collector come to your workplace with the intent to harass, embarrass, or annoy you, they are also in violation of Section 806 of the FDCPA. This provision prohibits debt collectors from showing up at your job and using embarrassment as a tactic to get you to pay them money. A debt collector doesn’t need to declare that they’re trying to collect money when they arrive at your place of employment for their conduct to be in violation of the FDCPA. The rationale for this is that, even without saying so, the very act of arriving at your workplace may indicate to others that they are a debt collector and cause you to be embarrassed or annoyed.
In summary, a debt collector cannot:
- Visit your workplace.
- Say that they’re a debt collector.
- Embarrass, harass, or annoy you.
What if the debt collector doesn’t intend to annoy you?
It’s important to note that the law doesn’t require a debt collector to intend to harass, embarrass, or annoy you by coming to your place of employment. It’s hard to prove intent. Instead, the law says that debt collectors may not engage in actions that have the natural consequence of harassing, oppressing, or abusing you in connection with debt collection. In other words, what counts is the impact of their actions rather than the intent of their actions.
If you believe that your consumer rights may have been violated by a debt collector coming to your place of workplace, you should seek the advice of a knowledgeable debt harassment lawyer right away. There are legal remedies available to you under the FDCPA, including up to $1,000, actual damages, court costs, and attorney fees.
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