Can a Collection Agency Call My Neighbors?
In the bag of cheap tricks, this is one of the worst ones that debt collectors or debt buyers or collection agencies use which violates the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). In the collection business this is known as a “block party”. Please let us know if you would like our free book “How To Stop Abusive Debt Collectors”.
What Is A Block Party?
The expression “block party” normally brings an image to mind of friendly neighbors gathered together cooking out and enjoying each other’s company. Within the debt collection industry, however, a “block party” is a much different thing. It is an illegal tool often used by debt collectors to harass and embarrass individuals into paying.
The collection agency or debt collector will call three or four or five of your neighbors and tell each of them that an urgent message must be given to you. “Can you please go over to his house and see if he is home?” or “Is he OK-he hasn’t called me back.” or “Can you leave a note on her door?” or “When you see him in the yard go over and tell him to call me immediately” or some similar statement. Usually the debt collector will refuse to tell the neighbor the reason for the call – “Sir, I’m not allowed to say as this involves an urgent private issue”. This only arouses the suspicion and curiosity of your neighbors.
Sometimes the collector will even say to your neighbors “He is not paying his bills and so I’m trying to help him not be a promise breaker. Can you help me by giving him this message?”
The result is you begin to get calls and visits from your neighbors. They tell you that you need to call “Mr. Jones” or whoever the collector is and, of course, they want to know what is this about. When this happens, the effect on you is exactly what the debt collector wanted – fear and embarrassment.
Why This Is So Bad
None of us want the private details of our personal life to be revealed without our permission. The thought that the collector might next time tell our neighbors that we owe money or that we are not paying our bills or that we are worthless is a frightening thought. Thus, often times the collection agency accomplishes its goal by forcing you to call it and pay off the bill to avoid the embarrassment of another block party.
So you pay it even if it is not the correct amount. Or even if you don’t owe it. You pay it because the pressure and embarassment of not being able to face your neighbors is too much. When this happens, the abusive debt collector wins.
You Can Sue For Money Damages!
If you have been victimized by this kind of dirty trick, then your legal rights have likely been violated and should consider filing a lawsuit to protect yourself against these abusive and illegal practices. Collectors can only call your neighbors if they don’t know your “contact information” or “location information” – home phone, home address, and place of employment. If the purpose is to harass you or embarrass you, or to get you to call, then the collector has gone over the line. Oftentimes these block parties happen when the collection agency knows exactly where you live and how to get in touch with you.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act allows you to recover statutory damages of up to $1,000 and actual damages. Actual damages include emotional distress. The abusive collector will also pay for your attorney fees and expenses in bringing a successful lawsuit for violating federal law. Federal judges have ordered that our hourly rate of $350 be paid by these kinds of abusive debt collectors.
Alabama state law may allow you to sue for invasion of privacy which also allows you to recover for actual or compensatory damages and sometimes punitive damages. Punitive damages are to punish the collector for this illegal conduct.
What To Do Right Now
If you have been a victim of a block party, or the related “office party“, please investigate your rights as no one deserves to be mistreated like this. We can help you – please contact us or call us at 205-879-2447. We have a free book on Stopping Abusive Debt Collectors.
Just pick up the phone and call us at 205-879-2447 or contact us through this website and let us know you would like our free book. We look forward to helping you stop out of control collectors and to get the compensation you deserve.