You might have heard about the harassment committed by debt collection agencies over the phone that crosses the legal line. For example, a representative from a third party debt collector such as Commonwealth Financial System calls you in the middle of the night to demand payment on a delinquent credit card or a personal loan account. Harassing phone calls are the bread and butter of the overly aggressive tactics implemented by many bill collectors. Are there any legal protections against harassing debt collection agency phone calls, including the leaving of phone calls using overly aggressive language?
A Landmark Consumer Protection Law Established the Legal Line
For decades leading up to 1977, third party debt collectors treated consumers like Al Capone treated anyone that owed money to a loan shark. From threatening bodily harm to using abusive language, bill collectors had free reign over consumer emotions. That is, until September 20, 1977, when the United States Congress enacted one of the most important consumer protection laws ever, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The FDCPA contains numerous provisions that make it illegal for debt collection agencies to engage in previously acceptable debt collection tactics. In addition to outlawing intimidation and harassment, the comprehensive FDCPA also grants consumers the right to file a claim seeking statutory and monetary damages.
Does the FDCPA Apply to Voicemails?
Unless you are legally allowed to tape record a phone conversation, claiming a third party debt collector harassed and intimidated you is a difficult thing to accomplish. This is where voicemails come in, as recorded phone messages are evidence you can use when working with a licensed FDCPA lawyer. However, the FDCPA does not explicitly outlaw the leaving of voicemail messages. What the powerful FDCPA does is forbid the practice of bill collectors contacting third parties concerning consumer debts. For example, if a debt collection agency like Commonwealth Financial System leaves a voicemail that your spouse heard, then you might have a strong case for presenting to a licensed consumer protection attorney.
Other Voicemail Violations Mentioned in the FDCPA
Instead of linking a voicemail message left by a debt collector to a third party, you can invoke several other provisions of the FDCPA. The consumer protection law prohibits the use of deception in attempts to collect outstanding credit card and personal loan accounts. For example, if Commonwealth Financial System leaves a voicemail claiming it represents the IRS, then the bill collector has violated one provision of the FDCPA by leaving a voicemail. Another way a voicemail can cross the legal line is if the message left on the voicemail system is full of profane statements. The FDCPA bans the practice of using abusive language to coerce consumers into paying off outstanding debts.
How an FDCPA Lawyer Can Help You
You do not have to take abusive voicemails or messages that reach members of your family. By speaking with an experienced consumer protection attorney, you can receive a much clearer picture of your legal options. One strategy to combat the overly aggressive techniques used by a debt collection agency involves invoking your state’s statute of limitations for the collection of consumer debts.
*Disclaimer: The content of this article serves only to provide information and should not be constructed as legal advice. If you file a claim against Commonwealth Financial System or any other third-party collection agency, you may not be entitled to any compensation.