Whether it is legal for debt collectors to call your family members is a complicated question. Generally, debt collectors may not call your family. They cannot collect the debt from your family or disclose the details of the debt to your family.
It is legal in some situations when debt collectors call your family. Collection agencies can even collect from a spouse in some situations.
Can Debt Collectors Call Your Spouse to Collect the Debt
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act debt collection agencies are allowed to call your spouse. Even if your spouse doesn’t owe the debt, collectors are allowed to discuss the debt with your spouse. They are even allowed to attempt to collect from a spouse under the FDCPA.
Under the FDCPA it is illegal for debt collectors to disclose the existence of the debt to third parties. It is also illegal to collect the debt from third parties. Spouses are treated differently under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act than other third parties because the FDCPA specifically allows debt collectors to call your spouse about the debt. This is a codified exemption that debt collectors use to harass your spouse for your debt.
Utah Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
There is no Utah Fair Debt Collection Practices Act preventing debt collectors from calling your family. There are also several statutes in Utah that allow debt collectors to collect from a spouse.
Under Utah law a spouse is generally not responsible for debts incurred by the other spouse. Debts incurred before the marriage are the sole responsibility of the spouse who incurred the debts. Debts incurred during a period of separation are also not attributable to the other spouse. Collection agencies may come after your spouse without knowing the debt was incurred before the marriage or during a period of separation however. That is illegal but you many need to hire an experienced debt collection trial lawyer to stop the debt collector from coming after your spouse.
If the spouse is separated at the time the debt is incurred, the family debt statute might not allow a debt collector to collect from a spouse unless the debt is for the children’s medical care, dental care, or other necessities.
In most situations it is legal in Utah for debt collectors to collect from a spouse. This is because Utah law makes both spouses liable for debts incurred by the other spouse during the marriage when the debt is for a family expense. Under the Utah Child Support Act medical and dental bills and other debt for necessities that were incurred for the children are also the responsibility of both parents, even if they are no longer married.
Medical bills, groceries, car payments, credit cards used for family purchases, purchases of furniture, and other similar debts are treated as family expenses in Utah. For those family debts collection agencies can collect from the spouse. Family expenses are the responsibility of both spouses to pay if they were incurred during the marriage and not during any period of separation.
Can Debt Collection Agencies Call Your Family, Parents, Children, or Other Relatives
It is legal under the FDCPA for collection agencies to come after your spouse for the debt. In some cases collection agencies can even come after your ex-spouse for a debt. It is however, illegal in most cases for debt collectors to call your family to collect the debt. This is because the FDCPA prohibits collection agencies from disclosing debts to third parties.
There are some limited exceptions however. The most common is when debt collectors call your family to find you. Under the FDCPA debt collectors can call third parties to locate you. Calling third parties to acquire location information is very strictly controlled by the FDCPA however. Debt collectors cannot disclose the debt to third parties. They must also identify themselves and state that they are confirming or correcting the debtor’s location information. Collection agencies also cannot call that third party multiple times in most cases. They get one call, that’s all.
If they know you are represented by an attorney debt collectors cannot contact third parties even to verify or obtain your location information.
Debt collectors can call your family in some limited situations. If the debtor is a minor, the collection agency can call their parents to collect the debt.
It is also legal under the FDCPA when debt collectors call your family if they are calling the debtor’s guardian, executor, or administrator. In other words, if a debtor is incapacitated and has a family member handling their affairs, the debt collectors can call your family if appointed to handle those affairs.
If a debt collector is attempting to collect from a spouse any debt incurred before the marriage, during a period of separation, or that was not for a family purpose, we can stop the collection agency when they come after your spouse.
If a debt collector is calling your family to collect the debt we can stop the calls and make them pay you up to $1,000.00 or more. We can also make them pay for illegally disclosing your debt to any third party. Call today for a free case review.