Ask the Experts: Stopping collection calls at work
I am being reprimanded at work and was sent home without pay for repeated calls to my office from the original creditor of a past due account. I proposed a repayment plan and asked to not be contacted at work. My payment proposal was rejected and I was told by the agent to expect a flurry of calls to my place of employment regardless of the implications and jeopardy the calls are placing on my job security. What options do I have to cease work calls and limit to just my cell and home phone if any. If I lose my job, is the creditor at all liable? -Becca
Becca – I’m sorry you’re having such a bad experience with a creditor. Unfortunately, your options are limited.
As you noted, you’re dealing with the original creditor and not a third-party debt collector. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law that puts restrictions on the methods third-party collectors can use to collect from consumers. It’s designed to protect you from the very harassment you’re facing right now – except it doesn’t apply to original creditors. There is currently no federal law in place to protect you from that kind of behavior from the company or entity that originally provided you with that loan or line of credit.
There are, however, state laws that can protect you from harassment from an original creditor, but every state is different. In Texas, for example, chapter 392, section 302 of the Finance Code states that “a debt collector may not oppress, harass, or abuse a person by causing a telephone to ring repeatedly or continuously, or making repeated or continuous telephone calls, with the intent to harass a person at the called number.” If you lived in Texas this law would likely apply to your situation, as the agent directly advised you that they would be calling you repeatedly with the intent of harassing you.
Research the laws in your state. There’s a good chance that you have some measure of consumer protection on the books. Meanwhile, take the following steps to protect yourself:
- Send a certified letter to the creditor advising them to no longer contact you at work and provide alternate ways to reach you. Keep a copy of the letter, as well as confirmation that it was received.
- Document all communication from the creditor. Note the time of every phone call received, as well as the name of the agent contacting you.
- Document all losses related to harassing collection efforts. In the chance that the situation ever escalates into a court case you need to be able to show what the collector’s harassment has cost you in real dollars.
- Be proactive. I couldn’t gather from your question whether or not you had reached out to the creditor yourself or if all the communication had been initiated by their collection department, but if you haven’t tried calling them yet, it’s worth your time to reach out. The agents calling you at work likely don’t have the authority to negotiate a repayment plan – that’s not really their job. If you call and show a willingness to find a middle ground that works for both parties, you might be able to reach a satisfactory solution. It certainly doesn’t hurt to try.
Good luck Becca!