Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, debt collectors can only communicate with you or your attorney about your debt. There is a very narrow exception that permits debt collectors to contact third parties, such as your parents, but only to obtain location information. Location information is defined as your address and telephone number. During this conversation, the debt collector must tell your parents that they are attempting to confirm your location information, they must not tell them that you owe a debt, and are only allowed to identify the company they work for if asked. Of course, your parents have no obligation to provide your address and telephone number. Once the debt collector has your location information, there is no permissible reason under the FDCPA to contact your parents, or any third party for that matter.
It is fairly common for debt collectors to contact people’s parents about their debt. And its not just college students and recent college graduates. I’ve had clients in their 40’s and 50’s whose elderly parents were called by debt collectors. I suppose its possible that some debt collectors contact consumers’ parents by mistake. But I also think that some debt collectors call people’s parents as a collection tactic to put pressure on the consumer to pay the debt. Either way, its a violation of the FDCPA, unless it falls under the very narrow “location information” exception described above.
If you live in Minnesota and a debt collector has been calling your parents about your debt, feel free to contact me for a free case evaluation.