The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) gives a debtor the right to notify a debt collector that he or she wishes the debt collector to cease communication with respect to the debt, with some exceptions. In situations where the creditor is communicating with an attorney representing the debtor, the question arises: does that statute allow the debtor’s attorney to request that communication with him or her be ceased? Likely not; the attorney seems to have no protection under the FDCPA and there is good support for this position.
The statutory language suggests that it applies only to communications with the consumer. For example, 15 U.S.C. § 1692c(c) states that “[i]f a consumer notifies a debt collector in writing that the consumer refuses to pay a debt or that the consumer wishes the debt collector to cease further communication with the consumer, the debt collector shall not communicate further with the consumer with respect to such debt. . . .” The next subsection defines “consumer” as including the “consumer’s spouse, parent. . . , guardian, executor, or administrator.” Notably absent is any prohibition on contacting the consumer’s attorney.
Moreover, Section 1692c(a)(2) actually requires a debt collector to communicate only with an attorney after the creditor knows the consumer is represented by an attorney, and Section 1692(b) lists the consumer’s attorney in the list of third parties with whom a creditor may communicate.
Finally, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals (Tinsley v. Integrity Financial Partners, Inc.) concluded that communications with attorneys were not prohibited by the FDCPA, noting that there would be “serious problems” if “consumer” was defined to include the debtor’s attorney. Several cases in the Middle District of Florida have found that other provisions of the FDCPA do not apply to communications with attorneys, further bolstering this position.
In light of the statutory language and these decisions, continued communication with a debtor’s attorney is likely permissible under the FDCPA regardless of that attorney’s request to the contrary under the Act.