A debt collector talked to my boss. Is this legal?

If a debt collector calls your employer, it may have violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

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Question

I just found out that a debt collector called and talked to my boss. Is this legal?

Answer

That depends on what the debt collector discussed with your boss, and whether you had previously told the debt collector to not call you at work. A debt collector can only call your place of employment under very limited circumstances. If these were not the right circumstances, then it's likely that the debt collector violated the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) in at least two different ways.

No Work Calls If Your Employer Forbids Them

The FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from calling at your place of employment if they have “reason to know” that your employer forbids you to take such calls at work. If you told the debt collector to stop contacting you at work, then the workplace collection calls must stop. If the debt collector called your workplace anyway, then it probably violated the law.

Location Information Only

Even if you did not previously tell the debt collector to call you at work, it probably violated the FDCPA another way. A debt collector can only contact your employer to seek information about your location. A debt collector must not discuss (or refer to) your debt with your boss or anyone else without your authorization, unless it obtained a court order allowing it to do so. If the debt collector communicated to your boss about the debt without that authorization, then it most likely violated the law.

No Harassing Phone Calls

If the debt collector called your boss more than once, or is using calls at work to harass or abuse you, then it may have also violate the FDCPA.

Check Your State Fair Debt Collection Laws Too

Your state's laws may provide you with additional protection. You should research the laws of your state to find out if this phone call to your boss is allowed under your state's debt collection or other consumer laws.

(To learn more about illegal debt collection practices and the FDCPA, see the Illegal Debt Collection Practices topic.)

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