- Robert Weed
Before bankruptcy: "Can debt collectors call my neighbors?"
I’m a Virginia Bankruptcy Lawyer. I talk to a lot of people in financial trouble. I talk to a lot who are harassed by debt collectors.
Many people–before they decide to file bankruptcy–don’t know what to tell debt collectors. Often, they just stop answering the phone.
That can lead to debt collectors calling your neighbors. That’s probably illegal.
Before bankruptcy, can debt collectors call my neighbors?
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) says debt collectors can talk to people other than you. But only “for the purpose of acquiring location information.” They cannot talk to other people for other reasons–like asking you to return their call.
That means it’s OK for them to call your neighbors and ask, “Does Virginia Consumer lives next door?” But it’s illegal for them to say, “Can you ask Virginia to call me?” Which is what they often do.
I saw this news release a few months ago, that makes me wonder if even calling to ask “Does Virginia live next door?” isn’t nearly always illegal.
This news release talks about a service that offers “real-time . . . enhanced … skip trace service.” It talks about how they check more than four billion records–to find out where you are living right now.
Probably you are living where you’ve lived last month and the month before–and not answering your phone does NOT mean you moved. So they don’t need to acquire location information. They already have it.
For our bankruptcy clients, our law firm sues debt collectors for calling neighbors–but only after you have started answering the phone, again. I’m wondering if we should start suing every time. At least if you’ve been living at the same place for six months or more.
Since I’m a bankruptcy lawyer, I want to say one more thing: If you have debt collectors calling, on a debt you do owe, you should think seriously about filing bankruptcy.
If you need a bankruptcy lawyer in your area, you can find one at the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys. (NACBA).
If you want to find a lawyer who sues debt collectors, look at the National Association of Consumer Advocates. (NACA).