Is it legal for my wife’s credit card company to call me, discuss her balance, and ask me to pay it?

I received a call from a credit card company regarding a card that my wife is behind on. First the rep ask for her and when I told the rep that she was not in they asked to speak with a family member or her husband. I told the rep that I was her husband. Next the rep asked if I could make a payment, without verifying who I was (only “I’m her husband”). I asked what the balance was and the rep told me. Finally, the rep gave me her contact info (which I have kept for my records). I am not an authorized user on the account nor did I even know that she had the card. Is there action we can take? Is this legal?

Asked on September 9, 2010 under Bankruptcy Law, Alabama


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

No, it is not the proper way that a debt collection company may act in an effort to collect on a debt.  Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, a debt collector may not discuss the particulars of the debt with another party.  They can call to verify the debtors address - and they can call neighbors and relatives generally only once - but they are not supposed to reveal the debt or the collection proceeding. Violations of the act can result in serious penalties and fines.  You can check on-line for the act and the parameters on collection.  And I would also contact your state attorney general's office immediately to file a complaint.  Your wife, of course, is the proper party to do so. 

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.