Can a Debt Collector Leave a Voicemail?[yoast-breadcrumb]
Getting a call from a debt collector is never fun. And when they leave a voicemail, it can feel even more invasive. So can they actually do that? Or are they breaking the rules? Let’s take a look at what debt collectors are legally allowed to say in voicemails.
The Short Answer
Yes, debt collectors can leave voicemails requesting you to call them back. However, they must follow certain rules about what they can and can’t say in the message.
What They Can Say in a Voicemail
According to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), debt collectors are allowed to:
- State their name
- Say they are attempting to collect a debt
- Identify the debt collection company they work for
- Provide a phone number and request you call back
For example, a compliant voicemail message could say:
“Hi this is John Smith calling from ABC Debt Collectors. I’m calling to discuss a personal business matter, so please call me back at 123-456-7890.”
What They Cannot Say in a Voicemail
Debt collectors are not allowed to:
- Reveal the specific debt amount owed
- Say you owe money (they can only say they are calling to “discuss” an account)
- Threaten any kind of legal action
- Use abusive language
- Talk to third parties (like your family or employer) about the debt
So a voicemail saying “This is ABC Debt Collectors calling about your unpaid $5,000 credit card balance” would be illegal.
What If They Break the Rules?
If a debt collector leaves a voicemail that violates the FDCPA, here’s what you can do:
- Save the voicemail message as evidence
- Send a cease and desist letter demanding they stop contacting you
- File a complaint with the CFPB or FTC
- Consult a consumer rights lawyer about suing for damages
Under the FDCPA, you can recover up to $1,000 in statutory damages for voicemail violations. And if the collector is found to have violated the law “knowingly and willfully,” you may recover up to $1,000 in additional damages.
How To Handle Voicemails from Debt Collectors
If you get a voicemail from a collector, here are some tips:
- Don’t panic – take a deep breath and stay calm.
- Save the voicemail in case you need evidence later.
- Review the message – does it follow the rules?
- Decide if you want to call them back.
- You could also send a cease and desist letter instead.
- If the voicemail seems illegal, speak to a consumer lawyer about your rights.
While debt collector voicemails can be annoying, knowing the rules helps you determine if they’ve crossed a line. And if they do break the law, you have options like filing complaints or even suing.
The bottom line? Debt collectors can leave voicemails, but their messages must follow the letter of the law. Know your rights and don’t hesitate to take action against any shady or illegal practices.