Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, a debt collector must identify himself as as such and further inform the consumer that the communication is from a debt collector. Interestingly, the FDCPA prohibits a debt collector from disclosing the debt to anyone other than the consumer, the consumer’s spouse, the consumer’s attorney, any third party that the consumer expressly allows the debt collector to communicate with, a credit reporting agency and the creditor. The idea is that the debt collector cannot spread the word about the consumer’s debt. So, what happens when a debt collector leaves a message on your answering machine? Simple answer? The debt collector violates the law in any event. Why? Because if the call is meant for the consumer, then the collector has to say that the call is from a debt collector. However, if a third party not listed above hears the message, then the collector has violated the rule against third party disclosures.
So what happens if a debt collector calls you and leaves a message? We sue them. Debt collectors should not be leaving messages on people’s answering machines. In an effort to wedge itself between these two competing ideas in the FDCPA, many debt collectors preface their messages with “If you are not Mr. Smith, please leave the room. I will wait 10 seconds for you to leave and then I will leave a message.” My question is what hair brained idiot gave the collector the idea that he gets to boss people in the consumer’s house around? If a debt collector were chasing me, fine. But he does not get to tell my kids to leave the room as the family answering machine is for their benefit as well. How would he like it if I got his phone number and left a message with the preface “I am about to cuss out your dad. If you are under 18, please leave the room”?
The simplest thing to do is to sue the debt collector if you get such a message. Under the FDCPA, you are entitled to damages of up to $1,000,m plus costs and attorneys’ fees.
If you are or have been the victim of a debt collector, call or email Attorney Gary Nitzkin for a free consultation at [email protected] Call toll free (888) 293-2882. For more information about our law firm, Michigan Consumer Credit Lawyers, visit our website at www.micreditlawyer.com