By Christopher C. Carr, Esq., Suburban Philadelphia Bankruptcy Lawyer
One of the prime indicators that someone may need to file bankruptcy is when they start to get bombarded by calls and letters from creditors.
Well, just how do creditors manage to locate debtors? Especially in our mobile society where that have moved to a different city or even state, with no forwarding address.
Social Media: Think creditors (and others) are not monitoring the information you post publicly? Think again, virtually any information you might post, such as where you work, live, shop, etc., can unwittingly provide vital clues as to your whereabouts.
Credit Card Applications: This is one of the most fruitful resources for your creditors. Not only is your residential address and contact information listed, so are references, contacts and acquaintances that creditors can use to track you down if you have relocated. Banks, credit references or relatives may also be detailed on the application and these also can provide promising leads.
Relatives, Friends, Acquaintances, Neighbors, Etc. These types of contacts are still acceptable if done properly. Collection agents may contact any number of people to get information on you, though there are some restrictions as to how/when they can do this under the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and correlative state laws regarding debt collection, such as Pennsylvania’s Fair Credit Extension Uniformity Act.
Self supplied information such as Phone Numbers. If a collection agency has or obtains your phone numbers, they may be able to then get your address using a reverse lookup. This is one reason why creditors will so frequently ask if they can add a phone number to your information on file.
Voter Registration Forms: Any time you register to vote in a new area, that information can potentially be accessed by your creditors. Even if you move, your old county retains these records.
Department of Motor Vehicles: These records are available to registered collection agencies in many states across the country. So when you get your license and register your car in that new state, you may be automatically giving them the information they need to find you.
- USPS Change-of-Address forms: Many major credit agencies receive change of address forms when you move from your previous location. They may also take the initiative to check with the post office themselves. Obviously, this is one of the best ways for creditors to track you down because you thereby tell them exactly where you are going.
- Skip Tracers: Creditors also employ skip tracers. These are professionals whose job it is to locate a person’s whereabouts for any number of purposes. The term “skip” refers to the person being searched for, and is derived from the idiomatic expression “to skip town”, meaning to depart (perhaps in a rush), leaving minimal clues behind to “trace” the “skip” to a new location. Records that “skiptracers” use may include phone number databases, credit reports (including information provided on a loan application, credit card application, and in other debt collector databases), job application information, criminal background checks, utility bills (electricity, gas, water, sewage, phone, Internet, and cable), social security, disability, and public tax information. Much of this information is not available or not easily obtainable by the general public or comes from data bases that are not widely known. Source: Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skiptrace
Once credit agencies do locate a debtor, their contacts are supposed to be in conformity with the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and correlative state laws regarding debt collection, such as Pennsylvania’s Fair Credit Extension Uniformity Act (PFCEUA), both of which prohibit debtor harassment. (The PFCEUA extends the requirements of the FDCPA to direct creditors.) However, many collectors are now evading the law by setting up shop in foregn countries and then calling in to the US.
©Christopher C. Carr, Attorney at Law 2012, All Rights Reserved
If you live in the Suburban Philadelphia area, including the counties of Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, or Montgomery, and are seeking a competent and compassionate bankruptcy lawyer to help you explore your options and find the optimum solution, please call Attorney Christopher C. Carr, MBA (Finance) at 610-380-7969 (Offices in Paoli and Coatesville) for a FREE DEBT RELIEF EVALUATION. Or visit my web site at westchesterbankruptcyattorney.org and fill out the contact sheet.
I also provide Mortgage Modification Services.