Collector - February 2020 - 16

COLLECTIONTIPS

Right-Party Contacts: Are Spouses Included?
How to proceed when a consumer's spouse is on the line.
By Angela Czerlanis

I

n an everyday telephone call,
speaking to a consumer's spouse
as an "alternate" contact is usually
acceptable without a second thought.
However, with collection calls-
especially those dealing with medical
debt and Health Insurance Portability
and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
information-it takes additional care.
The consumer's spouse may not always be
considered a right party.
Section 805(d) [15 U.S.C. ยง 1692c(d)]
of the FDCPA states that the term
"consumer" includes the consumer's
spouse for the purpose of debt collection
communications. Under the FDCPA, you
may discuss one spouse's debt with the
other. If the spouses are co-obliged to pay
the debt, such as in a joint account, it's
permissible for a debt collector to request
payment from both people.
However, not all states mirror the
FDCPA. This means that in some states,
you cannot discuss a debt with the
consumer's spouse. The spouse becomes
a third-party and you may not discuss
anything beyond correcting or confirming
location information from the spouse.

COMMON LAW OR
COMMUNITY PROPERTY?
In common law property states, debts
incurred by one spouse are that spouse's
debt alone. Income earned by one spouse
does not automatically become jointly
owned. Debts are owed by both spouses
only if the debt benefits the marriage or
the debt was jointly undertaken. All
other debts, such as business debt from
one spouse's business or a car loan in
which the title is only in one spouse's
name, are considered separate debts. You
may not demand payment from the
non-liable spouse.

16

Nine community property states
(Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana,
Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington
and Wisconsin) are different. In these
states, all debts incurred by either spouse
during the marriage are considered
community debts. Each spouse is liable for
debts incurred during marriage, even if the
account was only listed in one name.

DOCTRINE OF NECESSARIES

communicate with their spouse and to
what extent. Politely decline engaging in
conversations with the consumer's spouse
that could lead to violations. For more
information, consult ACA SearchPoint
document #2040, State Collection Laws:
Communication with Spouses.
Angela Czerlanis is ACA International's
compliance education specialist.

Some state requirements established
in statute or case law hold a
spouse liable for providing
the "necessaries" of life to
the other. Other states no
longer invoke the doctrine
of necessaries. Notably,
necessaries generally include
non-elective medical care.
That's why knowing
whether a state observes
the doctrine of
necessaries becomes
particularly important
when determining
liability for health care
debts of spouses and
their minor children.
Know your
consumer,
understand the
type of debt
being collected
and cross-check
state laws.
Determine
if you may

ACAINTERNATIONAL.ORG


http://www.ACAINTERNATIONAL.ORG

Collector - February 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Collector - February 2020

Presidents Page
Industry News
Best Practices
FYI
Collection Tips
Overlapping Responsibilities?
Taking on Tax Time
Making Connections in D.C.
Calendar
Honor Roll
Education Spotlight
Creative Solutions
Ask the Experts: Reaching Out
Legal Liability & the FDCPA
Advocacy and Parenthood: Not So Different
Your Opinion Matters
Beyond the Boundary of the Law
ACA SearchPoint
Membership
Ad Index
Last Word
Collector - February 2020 - Cover1
Collector - February 2020 - Cover2
Collector - February 2020 - 1
Collector - February 2020 - 2
Collector - February 2020 - 3
Collector - February 2020 - 4
Collector - February 2020 - Presidents Page
Collector - February 2020 - Industry News
Collector - February 2020 - 7
Collector - February 2020 - 8
Collector - February 2020 - 9
Collector - February 2020 - 10
Collector - February 2020 - 11
Collector - February 2020 - Best Practices
Collector - February 2020 - 13
Collector - February 2020 - FYI
Collector - February 2020 - 15
Collector - February 2020 - Collection Tips
Collector - February 2020 - 17
Collector - February 2020 - Overlapping Responsibilities?
Collector - February 2020 - 19
Collector - February 2020 - 20
Collector - February 2020 - 21
Collector - February 2020 - Taking on Tax Time
Collector - February 2020 - 23
Collector - February 2020 - 24
Collector - February 2020 - 25
Collector - February 2020 - Making Connections in D.C.
Collector - February 2020 - 27
Collector - February 2020 - 28
Collector - February 2020 - 29
Collector - February 2020 - 30
Collector - February 2020 - 31
Collector - February 2020 - Calendar
Collector - February 2020 - Honor Roll
Collector - February 2020 - Education Spotlight
Collector - February 2020 - 35
Collector - February 2020 - Creative Solutions
Collector - February 2020 - 37
Collector - February 2020 - Ask the Experts: Reaching Out
Collector - February 2020 - 39
Collector - February 2020 - Legal Liability & the FDCPA
Collector - February 2020 - 41
Collector - February 2020 - Advocacy and Parenthood: Not So Different
Collector - February 2020 - 43
Collector - February 2020 - Your Opinion Matters
Collector - February 2020 - 45
Collector - February 2020 - Beyond the Boundary of the Law
Collector - February 2020 - 47
Collector - February 2020 - ACA SearchPoint
Collector - February 2020 - 49
Collector - February 2020 - Membership
Collector - February 2020 - Ad Index
Collector - February 2020 - Last Word
Collector - February 2020 - Cover3
Collector - February 2020 - Cover4
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