Can a Collection Agency Call My Neighbors (“block party”)?


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.  It violates the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). In the collection business this is known as a “block party”.

What Is A Block Party?

The expression “block party” normally brings to mind images 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?”.

“Is he OK-he hasn’t called me back.”

“Can you leave a note on her door?”

“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.

The result is you pay the debt — whether you owe it or not — because you want to stop the harassment.

Why This Is So Bad And Violates the FDCPA

None of us want the private details of our personal life to be revealed without our permission.  This is why our medical records are kept private.

And our financial information is as well.

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.

So you pay the collector.

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 embarrassment of not being able to face your neighbors is too much.

When this happens, the abusive debt collector wins.

Some collection agencies will argue, “So what — if you owe the debt, why does it matter how we collect it from you?

If that’s true, why not break people’s knee caps to get them to pay?

After all, if all that matters is whether you owe the debt, then who can complain about being hit, or shot, or threatened, etc.

But even the abusive debt collectors admit they cannot cross that line but they think the “line” of calling your neighbors is ok.

It is not — and you have a wonderful solution.

Sue the bad guys in federal court.

You Can Sue For Money Damages under FDCPA!

If you have been a victim of this kind of dirty trick, then you should look into filing a lawsuit to protect yourself against these abusive and illegal practices.

We sue under the FDCPA — Fair Debt Collection Practices Act for money damages and your attorney fees will be paid by the debt collector.

We also normally sue under Alabama law which can give you punitive damages to punish the debt collector.

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.

Just pick up the phone and call us at 205-879-2447 or contact us through this website.  We’ll be happy to help you stop out of control collectors and to get the compensation you deserve.

-John G. Watts


6 Comments

  1. Diane says:

    To Whom it may Concern,

    I was recently contact by, what I now know was a collection agency, trying to find out information about a neighbor. The caller repeatedly insisted it was in the neighbors best interest, and were only trying to help financially. They asked for personal information, which I didn’t give, but agree to deliver a message. Are there actions I can take as a neighbor to stop or limit these kinds of calls?

    Any Assistance Appreciated,
    Diane

    • John Watts says:

      Diane,

      Thanks for your comment and question.

      First, let’s talk about the law. The collection agency should not be calling you unless it does not have the “location” information on your neighbor. Assuming it was proper to call you, the agency should not reveal anything about finances or say they are trying to help your neighbor,etc. And they cannot ask you to deliver a message. All of that is almost certainly illegal under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).

      Second, as far as how you can stop these calls. If you tell the collector to not call you again, and the same collection agency calls you again, then normally you can sue under the FDCPA. A debt collector is not allowed to harass anyone, and this is especially true if you are not even the one who supposedly owes the debt.

      My suggestions:

      **Document every call — take picture (or screenshot) of caller ID
      **Keep a little notebook or make a note on your phone of who called, when they called, the number called from, and what they said (and what you said)
      **If they call a second time, talk to a consumer protection attorney in your state to find out your options.

      We have sued a number of debt collectors for harassing neighbors — amazing they argued “Well, we weren’t trying to collect from the neighbor so we aren’t guilty.”

      Judges were not impressed with this!

      Best wishes and thanks again for your great question!

      John Watts

  2. Chris says:

    I’ve been laid off & looking everywhere for a job to no avail and a neighbor recently told me she was approached by a man looking for me & he told her he needs to find me because someone is filing a suit against me. I am quite irritated as well as embarrassed by this & would like to pursue some form of legal action so they know I won’t tolerate this.

    • John Watts says:

      Chris,

      Sorry you are experiencing this. If this was a process server, then normally they are allowed to talk to neighbors to find you. It is in poor taste to tell your neighbor it is about a lawsuit but some of these guys are not particularly nice.

      If this is true what you were told, then you are being sued. If in Alabama, give us a call at 205-879-2447 and we’ll be glad to look you up on the court system to see if any lawsuits. If you are outside of Alabama, get with a lawyer in your state.

      And if it turns out this was not a process server, then you may have some options to stop this type of behavior.

      Best wishes

      John Watts

  3. Barbara says:

    Debt Collectors are calling my neighbor 3 to 4 times a week to get in touch with my mom. She is 95 years old. They told me that they are calling 3 to 4 times a week. They are not happy about this. What can be done to stop them from calling them?

    • John Watts says:

      Barbara,

      Very frustrating they are doing this. Probably this is illegal — depends on circumstances.

      Have the neighbors told debt collectors (each one) not to call? And then that particular debt collector is calling still? Normally we would sue over that.

      Do these collectors have your mom’s contact info? If so, no reason for them to be calling neighbors except to harass the neighbors to then harass your mom.

      Definitely get with a consumer protection lawyer in your state.

      If in Alabama, call us at 205-879-2447.

      Best wishes and I feel confident you can stop these calls to the neighbors.

      John Watts

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