A credit card company, bank or collections department has the right to call you at work if you’re behind on credit card or loan payments. Nonetheless, federal and state laws give you the right to control where and when creditors contact you. Use your authority over such calls wisely to avoid inadvertently entangling yourself in a debt- collection lawsuit.
Some workplace rules prohibit handling personal business on company time. In such cases, the U.S. Fair Debt Collection Practices Act allows employees to tell creditors to stop contacting them at work because they can't take such calls there. A creditor must stop the calls immediately after being told to do so. The law also prohibits creditors and collectors from discussing your debts with anyone other than you, your lawyer or your spouse.
You can control your contact with creditors even if your employer doesn’t restrict personal calls. For example, you can tell creditors to call you at home only between 6 and 8 p.m. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act also allows you to tell creditors to stop calling altogether. The Federal Trade Commission recommends sending a letter to creditors by certified mail to make such requests. Think twice about cutting off all contact, because creditors may sue you to recoup debts you owe if they can't reach you another way.
State laws concerning debt collection practices are similar to the federal act. However, some state regulations include more details about restrictions creditors and collectors must observe when contacting people at work. For example, creditors can only contact Oregon employees at their workplace one time per week, according to the Oregon Department of Justice. Creditors also can’t call Oregon residents at work if they can reach them at home between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.
Creditors and collectors can only speak with you one time per day at work and elsewhere. Creditors can be accused of harassment under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act if they speak with you during the day and call again that day. However, they can phone you several times per day if you don't answer their calls. Any creditor or collector who threatens you and uses profane language to push you to pay a debt is violating federal and state laws.
Frances Burks has more than 15 years experience in writing positions, including work as a news analyst for executive briefings and as an Associated Press journalist. Burks has banking and business development experience, and she has written numerous articles on consumer issues and home improvement. Burks holds a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Michigan.