- Created: Thursday, 22 August 2013 20:36
Debt collectors use a variety of methods to reach debtors, including postal mail, pre-recorded calls to cell phones, and even via Facebook messages. However, as recently re-affirmed by a Federal Judge in a case won by Leavengood, Dauval and Boyle, P.A., debt collectors do not have the right to collect debt in any way they desire.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) provides safeguards to consumers and debtors by prohibiting certain abusive debt collection conduct and by outlining the rights of consumers. For example, on every single debt collection call, a debt collector must inform a consumer that it is a debt collector and is attempting to collect a debt. Another section of the FDCPA provides, however, that a debt collector may not communicate with any third party regarding a debt without the prior consent of the consumer given directly to the debt collector.
These two sections of the FDCPA, when considered together, create what is often called a “Hobson’s choice” for debt collectors. A “Hobson’s choice” is a term-of-art used to describe a situation wherein there is a false illusion of choice. In the current example, a debt collector faces a Hobson’s choice between these two sections of the FDCPA when it leaves a consumer a voicemail or leaves a message with a consumer’s co-worker. On the one hand, the FDCPA requires that the debt collector state that it is a debt collector attempting to collect a debt. On the other hand, The FDCPA prohibits a debt collector from telling a third party that it is a debt collector attempting to collect a debt. Thus the Hobson’s choice…debt collectors argue that, in order to leave a message for a consumer, the debt collector must violate one section of the FDCPA in order to comply with another. In other words, debt collectors argue that when speaking to a person other than the consumer, they have no choice but to violate the law. However, this argument is not well taken by the Courts. The FDCPA was specifically enacted to protect consumers’ privacy and to prevent this sort of conduct, as such collection practices result in serious invasions of privacy.
If you have received voicemail messages from a debt collector, or if a debt collector has left you a message with a co-worker at work on a “While You Were Out” slip, please contact us. At Leavengood, Dauval & Boyle, P.A., we are passionate about vindicating the rights of consumers and protecting their privacy. If you have endured such harassing conduct, you may be entitled to damages and the offending debt collector may have to pay our attorney’s fees and costs.