For the umpteenth time this year, I got a call last night from someone who is trying to track down my ex father-in-law.
The call came in on my business fax line (does anyone else even have a designated fax line anymore?) at 8:30 pm, and since my office is conveniently located 10 ft. away from my living room, I answered the call. Now, I have not had any contact with Wilbur since I got divorced from his son almost two decades ago.
So why did the collection agency call me? Well, similar to the six degrees of Kevin Bacon, their hope was I still knew someone who might know his son who would know where Wilbur is now.
If an employee is being harassed at work …
Every time I get these harassing phone calls, I ask to be taken off their calling list, based on my rights under section 804(3) of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act that states: a collection agency cannot communicate with a third party more than once unless requested to do so by such person, or unless the debt collector reasonably believes that the earlier response of such person is erroneous or incomplete and that such person now has correct or complete location information.
How can you help if you find that an employee is being harassed at work by collection agencies?
Another section of the FDCPA, 805(a3), prohibits calls at work if the collection agency knows these communications are prohibited. This can be accomplished by the employee or employer verbally informing the collection agency no calls are allowed at work.
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Financial counseling can also help
I recently spoke to a woman who had been getting harassing calls both at home and work from a supposed representative of a foreign bank that was trying to collect a bogus debt from her. In shear frustration, she asked her boss to step in and put him on the phone. The “bank representative” immediately switched gears and made up a story about being the worker’s ex-boyfriend trying to make amends (which he wasn’t). Now she’s not getting any more calls at work after her boss took action, and I suggested if he calls her at home anymore she should invest in a whistle or air-horn!
If the nuisance calls at work are from a legitimate collection agency, you can also provide support to your workforce by offering access to financial counseling. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling can act as an intermediary for your employees overwhelmed with debt by negotiating with their creditors for them.
Your EAP may also offer financial counseling, or consider a designated service for workplace financial counseling, like the Financial Helpline.
This was originally published on the Financial Finesse blog for Workplace Financial Planning and Education.