If you have past due bills, then you can expect calls from debt collectors. However, with this modern day of voicemail, it is not uncommon for the debt collectors to get your voicemail rather than a live person. There are laws in place as part of the FDCPA to protect creditors.
The FDCPA does not permit debt collectors to disclose your personal information to any third party. This means that if your voicemail is shared with your family or roommates or if it is monitored by your employer, debt collectors are not allowed to leave a message. Messages can only be left on private voicemail.
When Can a Debt Collector Call Family?
Debt collectors shouldn’t be contacting your family unless they are trying to learn your whereabouts or how to contact you. They can contact family members to get your phone number, residential address, or work address. However, the debt collector cannot say you owe money and they cannot use the collection agency name unless the person they called requests the name. If they already know your phone number and where you live there is no need to call your relatives. If they are calling relatives and already have your information, they are most likely violating the FDCPA.
Leaving Messages on Shared Voicemail
If a debt collector is leaving messages on shared voicemail, then the FDCPA is being violated. As an example, if they call your home and are greeted with, “Hello, you have reached the Smith family, Joe, Jane and Johnny, please leave a message,” it is obvious that it is a shared voicemail. If the debt collector still leaves a message despite that, they might be liable for damages to you through the FDCPA. Don’t delete these messages because they can be used against the debt collector.
Leaving Messages and Voicemails at Your Place of Employment
Debt collectors cannot contact third parties for collecting your debts except for the regulated purpose of locating you. If the creditor or debt collector leaves voicemails at your place of employment, then odds are the FDCPA is being violated. Also, if the debt collector is aware of or has reason to believe that contacting you at work is inconvenient or prohibited, they cannot contact you there. Keep these messages, if possible, or at least document them by writing down the date, time, and caller so you can bring this matter up.
You Don’t Have to Put Up With the Harassment
If you are falling victim to an aggressive debt collector who is harassing you and violating the FDCPA, you should consult with a FDCPA attorney. If a debt collector violates the FDCPA, you can sue them for statutory damages of up to $1,000 and usually, attorney’s fees, actual damages, and court costs. To get in contact with a FDCPA attorney, complete the Free Case Evaluation Form on this page. Your information will be shared with a lawyer who will review your case and help you determine the best way to proceed.