Can Debt Collectors Call Neighbors?

This article in the Star Telegram does a good job of answering a consumer’s question, “Can debt collectors call neighbors?” The article gives some very good information that debt collectors should remember and follow in order to keep themselves and their employers out of legal trouble.

From the article —

The answer, in this situation, is maybe. Debt collectors can call a neighbor, identify themselves as a debt collector if asked the name of their company, and explain that they are trying to find someone, according to federal and state laws. But they are not allowed to disclose any information about a debt.

Calls like those in Kennedale now happen more often, industry observers say. Contributing factors include growing consumer debt, new restrictions on bankruptcy filings and the booming collection industry, which is growing almost as fast as the debt.

Tom Kelley, a spokesman for the Texas attorney general’s office, said complaints about overly aggressive debt collectors are increasing.

Another neighbor on Dow’s street, Christine Williams, described a call that may have skirted the legal line.

Williams said she got a call from Ford Motor Credit Co. asking about another neighbor. According to Williams, the caller said, “We want to know if the people are still living there, and if they are still driving the truck.”

That question about the truck, some experts say, is possibly illegal because it gives the neighbor too much information.

“I don’t think we would go so far as to say, ‘Does he drive the white truck?'” said Louisville, Ky., lawyer Donald Haunz, who works at a law firm that represents collection companies. “We would say, ‘We are trying to locate Mr. Smith and do you know him? And do you know if he still lives at blah-blah address?’

“We would try to be as unobtrusive as possible. But we would ask questions that help us locate him.”

You can read the entire article @ Can debt firms call neighbors?.