Q: I run a small office-based business. In recent months, a problem has cropped up with a member of my sales team – a debt recovery company has begun chasing him over old personal debts by phoning our office. The debts have nothing to do with my business, and I have no interest in his personal affairs. I told the company this when they first called, but I’ve just received another voicemail from the company. Is there anything I can do to stop these calls during work hours?
A: There is indeed. While some less-than-reputable firms will seek to embarrass debtors by calling their place of work, this is not an acceptable practice in most circumstances.
A debt collector is not meant to contact a debtor at his or her place of work unless he or she is also living there, or unless all reasonable efforts to contact the debtor elsewhere have failed. They are not entitled to call to the premises and certainly should not contact you, the employer. This collector is either ignorant of the law, or thinks that you (and your employee) are.
To stop the nuisance calls, call this company back and tell them that you will report them to the Central Bank of Ireland- which has a consumer protection code in place to Govern the activities of collection firms – unless they stop immediately. And if they don’t, follow through on this threat – you’ll find details on how to do so at www.centralbank.ie.
Your reluctance to pry into your employee’s affairs is admirable. However, you should probably let him know that you’ve received the calls, and ask him to make contact with the firm to ensure that they don’t continue. While a past debt is no reason to part with a good employee, if he is in personal financial difficulty, you might also want to keep tabs on his interactions with clients, and make sure that he isn’t tempted to stick his hand in the till. However, you should reassure him that the calls will not impact on his future with the company.