For many years our office has been fighting debt collectors and protecting
members of the public by using the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
(“FDCPA”). Debt collector’s frequently one argument
in response. Fortunately our office usually prevails in such matters but
it is always good to get additional support from the courts. One argument
that debt collectors make is that they were not actually trying to collect
a debt when bothering our clients, therefore, whatever unlawful conduct
they engaged in was not actually a violation of the law. They may send
our clients bills in the mail or put notes on the door to their home or
call our clients and leave voice messages requesting our clients call
them back. It is unlawful for debt collectors to, in certain circumstances,
contact people known to be represented by an attorney while trying to
collect a debt. Debt collectors try to get around that law by claiming
that they were not trying to collect a debt, they were merely trying to
contact our clients.
A fantastic case just came out from the 11th Circuit on that point, Hart v. Credit Control, LLC. In Hart the United
States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit considered whether or
not a phone message requesting a call back from a debt collector could
be a violation of the FDCPA. The entirety of the phone message left on
the debtor’s voice mail was as follows: “This is Credit Control
calling with a message. This call is from a debt collector. Please call
us at 866–784–1160. Thank you.”
The 11th Circuit ultimately decided that it was a violation of the law
and had four important holdings.
1. No explicit demand for payment is required for conduct to be a FDCPA
2. That “a voicemail can, and will, be considered a communication
under the FDCPA if the voicemail reveals that the call was from a debt
collection company and provides instructions and information to return
3. That a debt collector who contacts a member of the public must either
identify their own name or that of the debt collection company.
4. That voice mail messages count as a “first communication”
as far as the FDCPA is concerned and that the disclosures required by
the initial communication must be included.
All around this is a great ruling by the 11th Circuit and should help in
the fight to protect members of the public from harassment by debt collectors.
If you would like to read more about the FDCPA and consumers fighting back
against debt collectors, you can find other stories on our blog:
Loan Lawyers has helped over 5,000 South Florida homeowners and consumers
with their debt problems, contact us to see how we may be able to help you:
This document has been provided for informational purposes only and is
not intended and should not be construed to constitute legal advice. Please
consult your attorney in connection with any legal issues related to the
matters discussed in this article as the applicability of state, local
and federal laws may vary.