Tammie asked for help when her creditor discussed her credit history with her husband:
I was late paying one of my credit cards. The creditor phoned my husband and gave him all the information on about my credit card including the balance and my payment history. The creditor even made payment arrangements with him.
My husband’s name is not on my account at all. I am the only one with access to the account. When I called the creditor, they explained that they had the right to discuss this with my husband because I live in Pennsylvania and because I was late in paying on the account. Is this true?
This sounds like a debt collector, and not a creditor. Assuming Tammie’s husband was not a co-signor or joint card holder, debt collectors may NOT speak to her husband or anyone else in her family about the status of the debt.
Whether you live in a community property state like California, or an equitable distribution state like Pennsylvania, debt collectors are not permitted to contact your spouse to discuss the terms of your account, or negotiate the payment of your individual credit card account. Collectors may contact other people, one time only, to find out where you live, work and what your phone number is, but they are not permitted to attempt to discuss your debt or collect it from anyone who is not otherwise legally obligated to pay your debt. (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act – 15 U.S.C. §1692c(b).)
What should Tammie do:
• The Federal Trade Commission: The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and abusive business practices. To file a complaint visit http://ftc.gov or call 1-877-FTC-HELP. (15 U.S.C. §1692l)
• File a complaint with her state’s office of Attorney General. Click here for the Attorney General’s office in your state where you can find on-line complaint forms, for filing complaints against collectors and creditors who violate the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and your state’s debt collection and creditor collection laws: http://www.fair-debt-collection.com/ag-complaint-forms.html
• She may wish to contact an attorney to help her sue the debt collector. If she does not have an attorney or cannot afford one, she can contact the Local Legal Services provider, or Lawyer Referral Service of the state, county or local bar association near her home.
Consumer protection is different in every state. The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act does not change the laws of any state debt collection practice unless that law conflicts with any part of the Act. If state law conflicts with the act, but provides better protection for you, then the state law applies. (15 U.S.C. §§ 1692a, n.) An attorney can advise you of your rights.
To learn more about your rights read Can Collectors contact my family, friends or work-place? Have a question about debt collectors? Do you have advice for Tammie ? Share your feedback in the comments section below Our editorial team is constantly searching for timely articles on consumer lending, online loans and saving money in 2015.