There are many horror stories people will tell about debt collectors. One of the more terrifying is when a debt collector calls a family member, demanding payment from them. While most professionals will not employ such unscrupulous tactics, it is not unheard of. That said, the only time when a creditor or collector can rightly demand payment from a family member is if that person is a party to the debt. If the debt is from a joint account, or the family member co-sighed, then a collector may seek payment.
This is an important thing to understand in relation to filing bankruptcy. When you file for bankruptcy, attempts to collect the debt are placed on hold. However, that protection only covers the person seeking relief. A debt collector can still attempt to collect the debt from other responsible parties. Likewise, if the debt is discharged, the secondary account holder or co-signer will become completely responsible. They receive no protection when you file for bankruptcy.
Regardless, the law limits a debt collector’s ability to communicate with 3rd parties. There are very strict rules. Essentially, a collector may call to confirm or correct the location information of a debtor, but they are not permitted to state you owe a debt. In fact, even revealing that they work for a collection agency is a violation. Once your location is confirmed, a debt collector has no legitimate reason to contact your family, friends, references, or neighbors.
If you believe a family member received an improper communication from a debt collector, you may report the violation to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or the state’s attorney general office. Moreover, if you believe you have been harmed as a result of an unlawful disclosure, seek out the advice of an attorney with debt collection experience.
What haven’t we covered yet that is important to you? If you would like to talk about a debt collector demanding payment from a family member, or related topics, please contact us.