If your office has become your new haven to hide from the constant barrage of debt collection calls you get at home, don't get too comfortable. With a little bit of digging, a collection agency can find out where you work and might begin calling you.
When a creditor turns your debt over to a collection agency, the creditor will often provide the collector with all of the information it has about you. Many accounts, such as credit card accounts and loans, require you to disclose your income and employer and provide a telephone number where you can be reached at work. Should you eventually default on your payments and the account ends up in collections, the collection agency can review the account information from the original creditor to find out where you work.
Your family members may unknowingly inform a collection agency where you work. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) allows debt collectors to call your friends and family members when attempting to locate you. Because the FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from discussing your debt with a third party, your loved ones may give a debt collector the name and telephone number of your employer without realizing that they are talking to a representative from a collection agency.
Some collection agencies employ skip tracers to help them find additional information about a debtor. A skip tracer's job is to uncover as much information as possible about an individual through public records such as bankruptcies, marriage licenses and mortgage deeds. Depending on how your state records information, any one of these records could list your employer. In addition, the Fair Credit Reporting Act allows your creditors to periodically review your credit report information. Your employer's contact information may appear under the "Employment History" section of your credit report.
If a collection agency finds out where you work and your employment information isn't available through any of the various venues that debt collectors often search, you may have accidentally provided the information yourself. Some collection agencies browse social networking websites looking for information about missing debtors. If your page is public and you've ever mentioned the name of your employer, you may have unknowingly informed a collection agency of where you work.
You have the right to stop collection calls you receive at work. The FDCPA strictly prohibits debt collectors from calling you at work if you inform the collection agency that such calls are inconvenient or place you in danger of losing your job. You may make this request over the telephone, but unless you are recording the conversation, you won't have proof of the request and some collection agencies won't acknowledge it. To ensure that collection calls at work stop, put your request in writing. You may sue any collection agency that violates the FDCPA by continuing to telephone you at work after you've requested otherwise.
- Federal Trade Commission: The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (Section 804/805)
- Microbilt: Collections Skip Tracing Data
- Federal Trade Commission: The Fair Credit Reporting Act (Section 604)
- CNN.com: Rogue Debt Collectors and How to Fight Them
- U.S. General Services Administration: Fair Debt Collection