The purpose of requiring credit applicants to provide credit references when applying for new credit is to provide information on people who can vouch for the applicant's credit worthiness, and who can help the creditor contact the borrower in case he or she defaults on the loan. If a borrower fails to repay a debt, the creditor is allowed to contact third parties, such as credit references, neighbors, and relatives, but only if the creditor is unable to contact the debtor directly, and only to obtain accurate contact information for the debtor. For example, the creditor could call you to ask if you have a current telephone number for your friend; however, the creditor cannot disclose that it is trying to collect on a debt, or any details of the account. If the creditor has disclosed such information to you, it may have violated federal and/or state law, specifically the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, a federal law that regulates debt collection. In addition, collectors are generally not allowed to repeatedly call third parties seeking contact information.
Your being a credit reference on a loan application does not make you legally liable for your friend's debt; you should not allow these collectors to intimidate you into believing that you owe this debt and that you are responsible for its repayment. Unless you were a co-signer on the account, meaning you signed the loan agreement stating that you would be responsible for the debt if friend failed to make payment, you should have no legal obligation to pay this account. The next time this creditor calls, you should demand that they stop calling you. You should follow this request with a letter to the creditor explaining that you are not liable for the repayment of the debt, and that the creditor must stop calling you. If the calls continue, you may want to consider consulting with an attorney to determine what recourse you have against the creditor for its repeated harassment. You may want to contact the American Consumers' Union at http://www.myacu.org/ for assistance in locating an attorney in your area who can help you stop this harassment.
For additional information about credit and debt collection, I encourage you to visit the Bills.com Credit Information page at http://www.bills.com/credit/. I wish you the best of luck in your efforts to stop these calls, and hope that the information I have provided helps you Find. Learn. Save.