This might sound like a trivial question, but debt collectors must, by law, strictly abide by the do’s and don’ts of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). This includes: when they call you, how often they call you, what they can say (and can’t say) to you, who they can contact, and how they contact you, regarding your debt to them.
As such, the question of whether or not a debt collector can leave you a voicemail message is not so black and white given that it is not necessarily the sole act of leaving a message, but rather what the message actually contained. At what times were the voice message left? If it was outside the hours of 8:00 am and 9:00 pm pacific time, that is a violation of the FDCPA. Is the collector constantly leaving you voice messages? Secondly, what did the debt collector say in the message? Did they truthfully represent themselves and the nature of the call? Or did they use aggressive and even threatening language towards you? Debt collectors must leave what’s known as a “mini Miranda” where they must disclose that they are a debt collector calling to collect on a debt, as outlined in §807.11 of the FDCPA.
“The failure to disclose in the initial written communication with the consumer and, in addition, if the initial communication with the consumer is oral, in that initial oral communication, that the debt collector is attempting to collect a debt and that any information obtained will be used for that purpose, and the failure to disclose in subsequent communications that the communication is from a debt collector, except that this paragraph shall not apply to a formal pleading made in connection with a legal action.”
Going even further, on what phone number did they leave you a message? Was it on your personal phone, a shared phone or at your workplace? They may be violating the FDCPA if they left you a voicemail on a shared phone, a work line or any other line that where there’s an expectation that others may hear the message. The reason this may be a violation is because debt collectors are not allowed to disclose to third-parties anything about the debt you owe (unless you have authorized them to).
As you can see, there are many factors that are involved if you want to determine whether or not you have been a victim of debt collection abuse. This is why it is crucial to keep record of every communication you have with the collector and collection agency because you may be entitled to monetary compensation if they are found to have violated the FDCPA! An Orange County consumer protection attorney can help defend you; call my law office today for your free consultation at 949-200-8755.