Are Collectors Calling?



Debt collectors know what the law requires. Collection agencies, debt buyers, and collection law firms spend lots of time and money going to seminars and workshops on how to avoid lawsuits. The best way, of course, is to not violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) law. But despite all of their knowledge, when it comes to voicemails it seems that the collectors just can’t help themselves – they insist on leaving voicemails that violate the law.


Sample of voicemail message violations


Speaker Play Violation Example #1

Speaker Play Violation Example #2

Speaker Play Violation Example #3

Speaker Play Violation Example #4


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We don’t see these as often as the other violations but they still are very common.

Debt collectors will say they are with the police or the district attorney’s office.

Creditors have lied by claiming he was the senior prosecutor for the state’s Attorney.Other companies have left voicemails threatening lawsuits that are supposedly filed but actually were not.
Other abusive collection agencies or collection law firms have threatened people with deportation or physical harm. Any type of illegal threat or lie falls into this first category.

Another common violation is when a consumer "refuses to pay" or demand the collector to cease and desist the collector does not. Keep in mind the FDCPA has the same language when you refuse to pay or ask to cease and desist they must follow the same procedures. So I would suggest just "refuse to pay" and wait for the collector to keep calling and document the calls and you have a very good violation and more than likely a case that can help us get the account deleted from the credit and helping us repair credit report.

Abusive debt buyer, collection agencies, and law firms often leave voicemail messages knowing there is a chance that people other than the debtor/consumer will hear the messages.

Most answering machines play over a speakerphone so if the debt collector says “Mr. Consumer you need to call us back about this debt you owe right now” and a neighbor or family member (other than spouse) hears this, then a third party disclosure has occurred.

This is illegal.

So if the debt collector says “This is a debt collector and this is an attempt to collect a debt” and someone else besides your spouse hears this – the law has been violated. Often times children or room-mates share a telephone line and voicemail (whether an answering machine or AT&T voicemail, etc) and so this is a serious and very common violation we see abusive debt collectors committing.

Debt collectors can call 3rd parties but only in an attempt to locate and once they have reached someone they can’t call again.

This is another very common violation that we can catch. A lot of debt collectors will continue to call 3rd parties to apply pressure on the consumer in hopes that they pay. Another is calling a 3rd party after they have already located the consumer which is a violation that is very easy to document and can make a very good case and it is very common. They call employers and they can only do this once and can’t continue if they have been asked to stop or if they know that it to be an inconvenience example; calling a school teacher and pulling her out of class.

Third-Party Contact Limited

Section 1692b of the FDCPA permits debt collectors to communicate with third parties for the purpose of obtaining a consumer’s “location information.” The stipulated order limits the lenders ability to make such communications by requiring it to document that it has a “reasonable belief that it cannot locate the consumer.” A “reasonable belief” is presumed, under the stipulated order when:

  • mail directed to the consumer’s last known address is returned as undeliverable;
  • the consumer’s “known telephone number(s)” are disconnected;
  • “at each number known to belong to the consumer the voice mailbox is full or does not acccept messages;” or
  • a third party at the consumer’s last telephone number claims the consumer is no longer using it.

The lender is also required to document the basis for its “reasonable belief” and maintain these records for three years from the date of its last contact with the third party.


Debt collectors know when they leave voicemails they must leave the so called “Mini-Miranda”, which is basically where they say “This is a message from a debt collector in an attempt to collect a debt and any information obtained will be used for that purpose” every communication after that they only have to communicate that they are a debt collector.. It prevents these abusive people from lying like they used to about the purpose of their call and it makes it clear to you that the call is a debt collection call. However, many debt collectors refuse to follow the law and make the mini-miranda disclosure. The reasons are many – but here is a couple First, it helps with collection efforts because it creates uncertainty in the mind of the consumer as to the purpose of the call. Do you call back or not? Second, it helps to avoid making third party disclosures which we discussed above. But the problem with this second reason is it is no excuse to violate one part of the law because you don’t want to violate another part of the law.

Amazingly, harassing debt collectors believe they have a constitutional right to leave voicemail messages. They don’t.


Know Your Rights


  • Making repeated and continuous phone calls
  • Use an auto dialer to call someone or using pre recorded messages.
  • Call a cell phone without prior consent.
  • Telling others about your debts, like your neighbors or co-workers
  • After they know you are represented by an attorney
  • At any unusual time (before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.) or place
  • Call you at work if they know that your employer prohibits it, or if its inconvenient for you.
  • After written notification that you refuse to pay debt
  • After written notification to cease all further communication
  • Making annoying, harassing and abusive phone calls
  • Contacting you without disclosing their identity
  • Contacting anyone except you, your attorney, or a credit bureau (with very limited exceptions)
  • Threatening to have you arrested if you do not pay your debts
  • Threatening any action they do not intend to take such as a lawsuit or wage garnishment
  • Using profane or abusive language
  • Threatening to take any action that cannot legally be taken or that is not intended to be taken
  • Falsely threatening an imminent law suit or wage garnishment
  • Leading you to believe he/she is an attorney or that a phone call or letter is from an attorney
  • Falsely threatening criminal prosecution or jail
  • Misrepresenting the amount or legal status of the debt
  • Falsely implying affiliation with the United States or any state, including the use of any badge and/or uniform
  • Sending a collection letter or leaving a voice mail that fails to contain the mini-Miranda warning: “THIS IS AN ATTEMPT TO COLLECT A DEBT. COMMUNICATION IS FROM A DEBT COLLECTOR”.
  • Misrepresenting themselves as being employed by a consumer reporting agency
  • Communicating false credit information, including failure to communicate to credit bureaus that a debt is disputed

Within 5 days of initial communication, a debt collector must provide you with a 30-day validation notice containing:

  • The amount of the debt
  • The name of the original creditor to whom the debt is owed
  • A statement that, unless you dispute the validity of the debt or any portion of it within 30 days after receipt of the notice, the debt can be assumed to be valid by the debt collector
  • A statement that, if you notify the debt collector in writing within the 30-day period that the debt or any portion is dispute, the debt collector will obtain verification of the debt or a copy of the judgment against you and a copy will be mailed to you
  • A statement that the debt collector will provide you with the name and address of the original creditor (if different from the current creditor) upon your request within the 30-day period
  • A statement that the communication is from a debt collector attempting to collect a debt and that any information will be used for that purpose
  • If you send the debt collector a letter requesting verification of the debt, the debt collector MUST cease collection efforts until it mails you a verification of the debt.


Steps to Take to Help Your Case

If you are being abused or harassed by creditors or debt collectors there are several things you can do to help yourself:


Save every letter, envelope or other document sent to you, regardless of how innocent they look.

Often times, a document you think is not important can actually make the difference in being able to protect YOUR RIGHTS!

What to SAVE –

  • Collection letters
  • Voice mail messages
  • Telephone bills
  • Notes you have written during a collection call
  • Many times debt collectors leave false, deceptive and misleading messages, or fail to properly advise you of YOUR RIGHTS!

  • Take a photo of your caller ID information
  • Save your voicemails to a storage device
    Immediately after or during any telephone call you have with a debt collector… take notes!

    Even if you didn’t speak to someone… take notes!

    If they left you a message… take notes!

    Write down:

  • Date
  • Time
  • Who called or you spoke with
  • Collector’s company name
  • Collector’s telephone number
  • As much of the conversation as you can remember and be specific.