Collector - July 2017 - 46

A Minor Issue
Some debts incurred by minors may be unenforceable under the law.

C

ollecting debts from minors
can range from complicated to
impossible. When attempting to
collect a debt incurred by someone who
has not reached the age of majority, which
is 18 in most states, debt collectors will
need to look to several different areas of
law, including the Fair Debt Collection
Practices Act, common laws and state laws,
to determine if the debt is collectable and
who to collect the debt from.
The FDCPA limits the parties a collector
may speak with regarding a debt. Under
the act, the definition of a consumer for the
purposes of communication "includes the
consumer's spouse, parent (if the consumer is a
minor), guardian, executor, or administrator."
As a result, the minor's debt generally may be
discussed with a parent or guardian.
However, the FDCPA may
potentially restrict a debt collector from
communicating with a minor. As the act
generally defines a consumer as "any natural
person obligated or allegedly obligated to
pay the debt," and often a minor may not be
legally obligated to pay a debt, the FDCPA
may not allow a debt collector to discuss a
debt directly with the minor.
This leads to an interesting question of
how a minor can avoid liability imposed by a
contract. The common law of contracts states
that a contract may be voidable when one
party to the contract lacks legal capacity to
enter into the contract.
Minors often lack the legal capacity to
enter into a contract and can generally
render a contract invalid by expressly
disaffirming or otherwise repudiating the
contract while still under the age of majority,
or within a reasonable period of time after
attaining majority status. However, if minors
reaffirm the contract after reaching the age of
majority, they likely cannot repudiate it.
Under certain circumstances, minors or
their parents (even if they are not parties
to the contract) can be held liable for some

46

debts. Under the common law doctrine
of necessaries, if the minor contracts for
necessaries of life such as medical care, food,
shelter or clothing, the parents of the minor
may be responsible even in the event they
did not cosign for the services.
If the minor is considered emancipated
from her family or the parents cannot or will
not pay the debt, courts may impose liability
on the minor herself. However, courts take
a case-by-case approach and will consider
a variety of issues and circumstances when
making a determination. Some states also
have specific laws about parental liability and
the debts of their children.

For a more in-depth look at the issues
surrounding collecting from minors, ACA
members can review ACA SearchPoint™
documents #1254 Debts Incurred by Minors,
#2036 Doctrine of Necessaries and #1153 Age
of Majority.
Have you checked out ACA's memberonly SearchPoint library? ACA SearchPoint
is filled with documents that put important
compliance information related to the
FDCPA, FCRA, TCPA, state laws and
many other topics at your fingertips.
To access ACA SearchPoint, visit
www.acainternational.org/searchpoint.

BENEFIT
YOUR
VOICE
HEARD

Advocacy
Education
Assurance
Call Customer Care:
(800) 269-1607

There has never been
a time more critical in
the credit and collection
industry. Join your fellow
industry professionals to learn and
stand together for your business to
thrive in this new environment.

ACAINTERNATIONAL.ORG


http://www.acainternational.org/searchpoint http://www.ACAINTERNATIONAL.ORG

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Collector - July 2017

Upfront
Industry News
Best Practices
FYI
Collection Tips
What’s in Your Policy?
State Licensing Laws: What’s New and Trending
The Question of Rule 68
Calendar
Honor Roll
Healthcare Data at Risk
ACA Members Meet in D.C. to Advocate on Behalf of Industry
Fixing What’s Broken
Credit Listening Considerations
U.S. Supreme Court Hands Collection Industry a Win in ACA-Supported Case
Compliance
ACA SearchPoint
Last Word
Collector - July 2017 - Cover1
Collector - July 2017 - Cover2
Collector - July 2017 - 1
Collector - July 2017 - 2
Collector - July 2017 - Upfront
Collector - July 2017 - Industry News
Collector - July 2017 - 5
Collector - July 2017 - 6
Collector - July 2017 - 7
Collector - July 2017 - Best Practices
Collector - July 2017 - 9
Collector - July 2017 - FYI
Collector - July 2017 - 11
Collector - July 2017 - Collection Tips
Collector - July 2017 - 13
Collector - July 2017 - What’s in Your Policy?
Collector - July 2017 - 15
Collector - July 2017 - 16
Collector - July 2017 - 17
Collector - July 2017 - 18
Collector - July 2017 - 19
Collector - July 2017 - State Licensing Laws: What’s New and Trending
Collector - July 2017 - 21
Collector - July 2017 - 22
Collector - July 2017 - 23
Collector - July 2017 - The Question of Rule 68
Collector - July 2017 - 25
Collector - July 2017 - 26
Collector - July 2017 - 27
Collector - July 2017 - Calendar
Collector - July 2017 - Honor Roll
Collector - July 2017 - Healthcare Data at Risk
Collector - July 2017 - 31
Collector - July 2017 - ACA Members Meet in D.C. to Advocate on Behalf of Industry
Collector - July 2017 - 33
Collector - July 2017 - 34
Collector - July 2017 - 35
Collector - July 2017 - Fixing What’s Broken
Collector - July 2017 - 37
Collector - July 2017 - 38
Collector - July 2017 - 39
Collector - July 2017 - Credit Listening Considerations
Collector - July 2017 - 41
Collector - July 2017 - U.S. Supreme Court Hands Collection Industry a Win in ACA-Supported Case
Collector - July 2017 - 43
Collector - July 2017 - Compliance
Collector - July 2017 - 45
Collector - July 2017 - ACA SearchPoint
Collector - July 2017 - 47
Collector - July 2017 - Last Word
Collector - July 2017 - Cover3
Collector - July 2017 - Cover4
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