Is Volkswagen Violating The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act?

Tim’s neighbor received a call from VW Credit asking her to walk across the street and leave a note on her neighbors’ front door and VW Bug asking them to call back their creditor. Calls like these are known as block parties, and they are a direct violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Tim writes:

My neighbor “Pam” recently lost her husband and was surprised to have someone call her up and ask for him. She asked who was calling. The representative was from VW Credit agency. They get to chatting and the rep asks if she knows two people from across the street and gives their names and house number. Pam is very social and say yes of course. The representative then asks if Pam could leave a note on the front door and on their VW Bug asking if the neighbors could please contact VW Credit agency.

At this point Pam said “No thank you” and terminates the call.

I don’t know if any laws were broken but there are violations of privacy legal or not that are very disturbing. I now have suspicions that neighbor 1 and 2 are co-signers on a car loan and are not returning calls to the VW credit. I am dismayed that VW Credit is using some data mining tools to figure out who the neighbors are and asking them to help in collections!

I know if I was having trouble making payments, the last person I want at my door is a neighbor telling me to call the collectors.

Shocked in CA,


Tim should visit his neighbors, but instead of leaving harassing notes, he should bring them Section 805(b) of the FDCPA:

(b) COMMUNICATION WITH THIRD PARTIES. …without the prior consent of the consumer,… a debt collector may not communicate, in connection with the collection of any debt, with any person other than a consumer, his attorney, [or] a consumer reporting agency…

Since Tim is in California, he also falls under the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which extends the federal FDCPA to original creditors, and separately provides: “…collectors may not tell another person, other than your attorney or spouse, about your debt.”

Tim’s neighbors can sue VW Credit in small claims court, and, thanks to Section 813 of the Act, walk away with a judgment for $1,000.

We’d expect shady collection tactics from fly-by-night creditors, but not large established subsidiaries of Volkswagen. Have any of you had similar experiences? Tell us in the comments.

Fair Debt Collection Practices Act [FTC]
RELATED: How To Take Your Case To Small Claims Court
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