Debt collectors often block or hide their phone numbers when calling debtors. This can seem sketchy or alarming, but there are reasons collectors take this approach. As a financial services company dedicated to ethical practices, we want to provide transparency into debt collection tactics like number blocking.
It’s Legal For Collectors to Block Numbers
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) does not prohibit calling from a blocked number. In 2007, the court case Glover v. Client Services confirmed it’s legal for a debt collector to call using a blocked number. So while some debtors may find it frustrating or confusing to get calls from blocked numbers, collectors aren’t breaking any laws by doing this. It comes down to strategy and convenience on their part.
Blocking Numbers Helps Collectors Reach Debtors
Many debt collectors block their numbers for two main reasons:
- Intimidation – Calls from blocked numbers can seem more alarming and urgent to debtors. This adds pressure to pick up the call and address the debt.
- Avoid Call Blocking – If collectors reveal their real numbers, debtors can easily block the number to avoid future calls. By hiding the number, it’s harder for debtors to dodge them.
So number blocking is really a strategy collectors rely on to increase answer rates and make contact with debtors.While intimidation tactics are frowned upon in the industry, there are no FDCPA rules prohibiting this approach. Collectors walk a fine legal line when using such techniques.
What Tactics Are Off Limits for Collectors?
While the FDCPA allows number blocking, it prohibits collectors from:
- Using false statements or implications about the debt
- Making threats of actions they don’t intend to take
- Calling outside of 8am-9pm without consent
- Harassing or abusing debtors
- Contacting debtors after receiving cease and desist letters
For instance, some unethical collectors falsely threaten wage garnishment or arrest to pressure debt repayment. But they can’t legally garnish wages or arrest someone without a court order.The FDCPA also limits collectors to 7 calls per week about a debt. And they can’t call repeatedly in a harassing way, like 7 times in one day.
Options If You’re Getting Harassing Blocked Calls
If you feel a collector is harassing you with repeated blocked calls, you have options:
- Send a cease and desist letter – To make them stop calling altogether, send a cease and desist letter. Here are templates to use.
- Report FDCPA violations – If collectors are making illegal threats or too many calls, report them to the CFPB or FTC.
- Block their numbers – Try blocking their numbers through your phone carrier or apps like Nomorobo. This may not work fully if they switch numbers.
- Don’t engage – Hang up rather than engaging with harassing collectors. This avoids accidentally resetting debt time limits.
- Dispute debts – Formally dispute debts you believe are wrong or outdated using debt validation letters. This can stop collection efforts.
- Get legal help – Consult a lawyer if you’re being illegally harassed and want to explore legal options. Here are affordable resources to find attorneys.
How to Handle Calls from Blocked Numbers
Getting calls from blocked debt collectors can be an annoying and stressful experience. Here are some tips on handling them:
- Don’t ignore calls – Avoiding them may delay resolving debts and lead to lawsuits. But don’t feel rushed into payments either.
- Request validation – Ask collectors to validate the debt if you think it’s wrong or outdated.
- Negotiate – Try to negotiate affordable payment plans or discounted payoff amounts. Get any agreements in writing.
- Record calls – Use apps to record calls as evidence of harassment, if needed. But check if you live in a two-party consent state first.
- Take notes – Document dates, times, and details of calls and any FDCPA violations. This supports complaints.
- Exercise rights – Don’t be afraid to exercise your rights under the FDCPA. You can request no calls at work, limit call times/frequency, dispute debts, and send cease and desist letters.
- Get help – Seek free debt counseling from nonprofits to understand your options and rights. Here are referrals.
While frustrating, number blocking by collectors doesn’t violate the FDCPA. But harassment, threats, and excessive calls do. Know your rights and don’t hesitate to push back on shady practices. Seeking help from credit counselors or lawyers can also give you a better game plan for dealing with debts.With the right approach, you can handle blocked calls in a way that reduces stress and protects your finances. Our goal at Delancey Street is to promote ethical, empathetic debt collection so consumers like you aren’t subjected to intimidation tactics.