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Can Debt Collectors Call From Local Numbers?

Melissa Lyken | December 01, 2022

Debt collectors can't pretend to be someone they're not.

Summary: Debt collectors often walk the line between concealing their identity and trying to reach you. Find out if they're crossing the line when they use local phone numbers.

Are you being harassed by a debt collector calling you from numbers that match your area code? Debt collectors can collect from debtors by sending letters, emails, text messages, and even phone calls. They can call you on your home phone or cellphone number. Making phone calls is the most strategic and convenient way for debt collectors to collect. They even have different phone call tactics that may pressure the debtor to pay. This is why no one wants to receive a debt collection call, especially if they are known to be very aggressive when collecting a debt.

Even if debt collectors are allowed to call from local numbers, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) restricts debt collectors. It makes sure that debtors are protected from any abusive, deceptive or unfair collection practices. Importantly, a call from a debt collector should not cause any inconvenience or stress to the debtor.

The FDCPA allows a debt collector to use different phone numbers. However, they must present their identity to the debtor. They are not required to reveal their name, but they must convey the name of the agency they are representing. Most importantly, they cannot use a number that would misrepresent them as someone calling from a law firm or any official government agency.

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Debt Collectors Cannot Make False Statements or Threats

False statements and threats are pervasive when receiving a call from a debt collector. They may threaten to garnish your wages or bank accounts you will not pay or that they will contact a police officer to arrest the debtor for failure to make payments. There are many more lies and threats that debt collectors have used to pressure debtors to pay.

Under the FDCPA, this practice is illegal, and debt collectors must refrain from making any threats or false statements.

Wage or bank account garnishment is possible only via a court judgment. When a debt collector calls a debtor, there is no pending collection lawsuit at that moment, and they cannot threaten to garnish the wages or bank account of a debtor. It is a false statement, and it violates the FDCPA.

Furthermore, a debt collector cannot misrepresent the actual amount of the original debt, interest charges, late fees, or other information related to the debtor's account.

Debt Collectors Cannot Make Harassing Phone Calls

This is another debt collection strategy designed to pressure a debtor, and it causes considerable inconvenience to the daily activities and work of a debtor. Examples of this behavior include:

  • Calling early in the morning (before 8:00 am), in the middle of the night, during dinner (after 9:00 pm), or even during holidays
  • Calling at work during working hours
  • Using obscene or foul language
  • Yelling at the debtor
  • Repeatedly calling the debtor just to annoy

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Debt Collectors Cannot Call a Third Person

A debt collector can only call the debtor, the debtor's spouse, and the debtor's attorney.

Aside from these three exceptions, there are no other individuals that a debt collector can contact. The only exception to this is when the debt collector inquires about the debtor's whereabouts, including their current address, place of work, or phone number.

In this case, the debt collector can call a neighbor, friend, or relative of the debtor, but they can only contact them once. Calling a third person repeatedly is a violation of the FDCPA. Furthermore, the debt collector cannot discuss any information related to the debtor's debt or account to any third person, even if they are a relative of the debtor.

Debt Collectors Cannot Call You Instead of Your Lawyer

When a debtor has already provided their debt collector with the contact details for the lawyer representing them, the debt collector must stop calling the debtor. The exception to this is if the lawyer fails to respond to the debt collector within a reasonable time.

Suppose you have experienced any or all of these violations of the FDCPA, and you do not want to receive any more calls from your debt collector. In that case, your best option is to send a written request or letter to the debt collector asking them to stop calling you or the third person. You should also indicate your preferred method of communication, be it via letters, email, or text messages.

If your debt collector does not grant your request and continues to call you, you may now file a complaint against the debt collector.

However, if your debt collector acknowledges your request, they may still call you for the following reasons:

  • To confirm that they will stop calling you.
  • To inform you that they are already pursuing legal action against you.

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File a Complaint Against a Debt Collector in Violation of the FDCPA

If a debt collector violates the FDCPA, a debtor may file a complaint and report a debt collector for their alleged violation to:

  • The State Attorney General's Office
  • The Federal Trade Commission

The exception to this is if your state has different debt collection laws than the FDCPA.

Phone calls from debt collectors can be stressful, annoying, and illegal. If you are being hassled by a debt collector calling you from different numbers, make notes of any FDCPA violations and report them. It is within your rights to fight back. We hope these tips equip you to do just that.

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