Debt Collector Voice Mail Messages and Third Party Disclosure

09 Oct Debt Collector Voice Mail Messages and Third Party Disclosure

As I previously wrote, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (”FDCPA”) requires that debt collectors, when communicating with a consumer, state that the communication is from a debt collector. See 15 U.S.C. 1692e(11). However, if a debt collector leaves a voice mail message and states that he is a debt collector, there is a chance that a (non-spouse) household member may listen to the voice mail message and the consumer’s privacy rights, as enshrined in the FDCPA, would be violated. Such third party contacts are prohibited by 15 U.S.C. 1692c. A debt collector could always argue that the third party disclosure was inadvertant and invoke the so-called bona fide error defense 15 U.S.C. 1692k(c). However, to maintain this defense the debt collector must show the “maintenance of procedures reasonably adapted to avoid any such error.” I think that this would be an uphill battle for the debt collector, although there has not yet been a case addressing this issue. Debt collectors would probably be wise to avoid using voice mail message altogether as a collector tool.

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