Leaving Messages on Home Answering Machines:
Debt collectors are prohibited from calling certain places or
discussing your information with third parties and can only call
between 8:00 am and 9:00 P.M.
Bill collectors and creditors collecting their own debts can
leave messages on personal answering machines located in your home, even though
other family members or visiting friends and relatives might hear the message.
Although the message does not need to contain information other than
the name of the caller and a number to call back, comments such as
"it's urgent" or "it's important" and leaving a brief reason for the call do
not violate the law. For instance, "This is Mr. Collector with Default
collections. I'm calling about your overdue credit card payment. It's urgent
that you return my call today so we can discuss bringing your account current.
My phone number is 555-1234.
Calling several times a day to leave a message (on a machine or
with a person other than you or your spouse) does not violate the FDCPA. If
collectors call and actually speak with you or your spouse, then calling again
that day without a legitimate purpose, might be considered
Leaving threatening or abusive messages including abusive
language, religious slurs, profanity, obscenity, calling the consumer a liar or
a deadbeat, or other name calling, threatening legal action that they do not
intend to take and the use of racial or sexual epithets are serious violations
of the FDCPA. See more here:
Special Note: Making threats to children is
an especially grievous violation of the FDCPA and should not go unreported.
Report collectors who threaten you, your children or anyone associated
with you, to your State Attorney General
Leaving Messages on Answering Machines at Work:
Bill collectors can call you at work unless you or your
employer have told them otherwise so, the information presented below assumes
that the collector has NOT been told to stop calling. Collectors who continue
calling your work after being told to stop are violating the FDCPA.
If you have a private phone at work that only you answer and
collectors know the number to this phone, it is the only number they can
legally use to call you at work. Calling any other number is designed to
embarrass you and is a clear violation of the FDCPA. If your private phone has
an answering machine attached or a private voice mail feature (that no one else
can access), collectors can leave messages. The same rules about the type of
message and content as outlined above still apply...threatening or abusive
messages are illegal.
If you use a phone at work that can be accessed by anyone
else, it's considered a public use phone. Collectors must be very careful about
the type of message they leave on public use phones. They can leave a message
but the only thing the message should include is the collector's name and
number. NO reference to the debt is allowed! The tone of the message
must be non-threatening and any hint that the call is about the collection of a
debt is illegal!