There are limits as to when a student loan servicer can contact someone other than the borrower. They cannot call the borrower’s place of employment if the borrower asks them not to. They cannot robocall the borrower’s cell phone when the borrower asks them not to. They cannot discuss the debt with a third party. They cannot contact the debtor when the debtor has retained legal counsel. These are all very clear rules proscribed by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) and its Florida counterpart, the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (“FCCPA”) or the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”).
One quirk that I’d like to see how widespread it is, involves student loan servicer contacts with the debtor’s family members after the debtor has retained counsel. In this particular instance, the contact involves asking for contact info for the debtor as well as their employment info. At that time, the student loan servicer knows how to reach the debtor. They know all contact regarding the debt is to go through legal counsel. So why contact a reference or family member pretending they don’t know how to reach the debtor. And ask for employment information from this relative.
There are two sub-sections of the FCCPA in play on this question:
- Fla. Stat. 559.72(18) provides that a person cannot contact the debtor if they know the debtor is represented. This sub-section doesn’t specifically include the debtor’s family.
- Fla. Stat. 559.72(7) prohibits willful communications with the debtor or any member of her or his family with such frequency as can reasonably be expected to harass the debtor or her or his family, or willfully engage in other conduct which can reasonably be expected to abuse or harass the debtor or any member of her or his family.
I believe that contacting the debtor’s family to ask for her employment information and other contact information when they are known to be represented by counsel is a violation of 559.72(7). There was no reason for this letter other than to abuse or harass the debtor in getting family members involved in a situation that was being otherwise addressed by legal counsel. My question is how widespread is this practice?