generally do define the term,
unfortunately they usually have differing
definitions of it.
Debt collectors must be especially
aware of this issue when speaking with
same-sex spouses, as some states do not
recognize same-sex marriages.
Review state laws before assuming
you can contact a consumer’s spouse.
This becomes especially important when
consumers move from one state to
Additionally, collectors must
understand that even if federal and state
law permits them to discuss a debt with
a consumer’s spouse, this does not
automatically imply that the spouse is
also liable for payment of the debt.
Collectors should review state law and
the underlying contract to determine
whether the spouse is also responsible
for payment of the consumer’s debt.
While the FDCPA allows debt
collectors to communicate with a
consumer’s attorney regarding the
consumer’s debt, they need to
understand that a power of attorney may
not necessarily fit this description.
While a power of attorney may very
well be an attorney at law, a power of
attorney may also be another trusted
nonattorney individual, such as a
consumer’s parent, spouse, friend, etc.
In this case, collectors should ensure
they have obtained the consumer’s
authorization to speak with a consumer’s
power of attorney. Review your
company’s policy regarding requesting
power of attorney documentation.
Revealing a consumer’s debt to an
unauthorized third party is strictly
Skiptracing Requirements Under the FDCPA
collector contact her again or if the
collector reasonably believes the
previous response was erroneous or
incomplete and the third party now
has correct or complete information.
• Not communicate by postcard.
• Not use any language or symbol on
an envelope that indicates the
collector is in the debt collection
business or that the communication
relates to debt collection.
• Not communicate with any person if
the collector knows the consumer is
represented by an attorney.
Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, while skiptracing
• Identify themselves and state
that they are confirming or
correcting location information
concerning the consumer.
• Only identify their employer if
expressly asked by the third
• Not state that the consumer
owes any debt.
• Not communicate with a third
party more than once unless the
person requests the debt
prohibited by the FDCPA. Except in the
limited instances described earlier, a
collector may not communicate with a
third party regarding a consumer’s debt.
Examples of such parties may include
the parents of a child who has reached
the age of majority; family members
(other than a spouse); a consumer’s
children; neighbors; employers or co-workers.
Collectors should be careful to
ensure a permissible purpose exists to
contact these third parties.
Communications with such parties are
not directly permitted by the FDCPA
unless the communication is for
skiptracing purposes, follows a
court order, or the individual is also
liable for the payment of the debt.
Third-party communications present
a complicated landscape for debt
collectors to navigate, and making
unintentional mistakes can be time
consuming and costly. Keeping up with
all state and federal laws will help
collectors communicate confidently
with third parties. cm
Laura Dadd is a compliance analyst for
ACA members may read additional
ACA SearchPoint documents on
communicating with third parties at