ILLEGAL VOICEMAILS BY COLLECTORS
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
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.
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:
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.
Within 5 days of initial communication, a debt collector must provide you with a 30-day validation notice containing:
If you are being abused or harassed by creditors or debt collectors there are several things you can do to help yourself:
Often times, a document you think is not important can actually make the difference in being able to protect YOUR RIGHTS!
What to SAVE –
Many times debt collectors leave false, deceptive and misleading messages, or fail to properly advise you of YOUR RIGHTS!
Even if you didn’t speak to someone… take notes!
If they left you a message… take notes!