Despite sending a letter to a collection agency updating my current address, the agency sent a letter to my employer inquiring about address and employment history.
The letter seems to have been sent randomly to a secretary who works for a peer of mine. She has no significant role or authority with the company. For all intensive purposes she's one of many secretaries/work bees.
Upon receiving the letter she gave it ti me very apologetically for having read. It was awkward and embarrassing for both of us.
I have no idea why the debt collection agency addressed the letter to her nor does she.
My theory is the agency simply googled my company and picked the first person's name they came across to send the letter to. (The secretary works in the fundraising/community development department. Hence, her name often appears at the top of a google search i the company.)
I know collection agencies are allowed to contact employers to verify certain information.
But are they allowed to randomly contact anyone?
Do they not have to contact the HR/Personnel department or an appropriately designated person/department?
2 Answers from Attorneys
They can contact anyone they can find at the employer seeking information.
They can contact a third-person under the FDCPA only for the purpose of acquiring location information about you. If you already updated the information (did you mail it certified return receipt requested?? If not, the collector will claim they never received it).
It sounds like you may have a potential FDCPA violation if this was conduct by a debt collector.
Depending on the size of the debt and whether a violation is established by your evidence, you may be able to use this to negotiate resolution of the debt if nothing else. I would contact a local lawyer specializing in FDCPA/FCRA violations and see what the lawyer can do for you. Attorney's fees are recoverable under the FDCPA so many lawyers will represent you for free.
By the way - this is a favorite tactic of debt collectors who hope to embarrass/shame people into paying their debts. It worked here as it embarrassed you. However, this does not excuse the FDCPA violation and I would not only see a lawyer about that but file a complaint with the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau - CFPB and FTC. They are looking at debt collectors and debt collection tactics and they actually seem to be one government agency that works.
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