I work the night shift and sleep during the day. Can a debt collector repeatedly call me mid-day?
The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibits debt collectors and collection agencies from calling you at inconvenient times. If the collector knows that you generally are asleep in the middle of the day, she will violate the FDCPA if she calls you then.
(Learn about other collection actions that violate the FDCPA.)
What Is the FDCPA?
The FDCPA is a federal law that places limits on what bill collectors can do when attempting to collect debts from consumers. It applies to debt collectors only, not to the original creditor on the debt. In order to protect debtors from harassing phone calls and communications, the FDCPA prohibits certain types of communications from debt collectors. (Learn details on who the FDCPA applies to.)
Debt Collectors Cannot Contact You at Inconvenient Times
The FDCPA expressly states that debt collectors cannot communicate with consumer debtors at an unusual time or place, or a time or place that the debt collectors knows, or should know, is inconvenient. The law presumes that an inconvenient time is between 9 p.m. and 8 a.m., using the local time of the consumer. However, if those hours, or some of those hours are not convenient in your particular situation, then the collector cannot call you then if the collector knows or should know those hours are not good for you.
How Does the Collector Know What Hours Are Inconvenient?
If the debt collector has information in your account file indicating that you work nights, she may already be on notice that calling in the middle of the day would be inconvenient for you. But to be on the safe side, tell the debt collector what hours you generally sleep. That way, you know for sure that the debt collector is aware that those hours are not convenient for you to take collection calls.
Be sure to document your conversation with the collector -- note the date and time you called, and what you told the collector. That way, if she continues to call you have a written record of your notification.
What If the Collector Continues to Call During the Day?
If the collector continues to call you at hours that she knows are inconvenient for you, she is violating the FDCPA. Keep a written log of her calls. Again, note the date, time, and place of the calls, and the substance of the communication.
You can take legal action to stop the harassing phone calls and collect monetary damages from the collection agency. Contact an attorney, sue the collector in Small Claims Court, and/or notify a government agency. To learn more about these options and what types of damages you can sue for, see the articles in Illegal Debt Collection Practices Under the FDCPA.