Debt Collectors Call – But Then Hang up

Debt Collectors like to call their debtors and leave messages Past _due _imgon their home phones, cell phones and work
phones.  Often, these calls get the collectors into hot
water.  Sometimes that message does not properly disclose that
the call is an attempt to collect a debt (as required by 15 U.S.C.
§1692e(11)) and sometimes the call does disclose the debt, but the
message is one that is heard by third parties (in violation of 15
U.S.C. §1692b(2)). 

What happens when the debt collector just hangs up on the
recording?  Or, if the collector says nothing but leaves dead
air space?  This latter scenario was recently addressed by a
Federal court in Texas where it was found that such a message is
not a “communication” under the
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
, and therefore could not
violate the  law.

In the recent case of Garza v. MRS Associates, the debtor
claimed that MRS had called and left a 20 seconds of dead air
on the voicemail.  The debtor alleged that this dead air
message did not properly disclose that the call was coming from a
debt collector and did not properly disclose the identity of the
caller (also required under 15 U.S.C. §1692d(6)).  The court
disagreed and found that the dead air was not a “communication”
under the FDCPA.   In order for the conduct of
collections to be actionable, there must be a communication from
the collector.  The court stated, “In short, persuasive
case law supports the idea that a voicemail is a communication only
when it conveys more information than could be gathered from a
missed call.  Silence does not meet this standard.
Accordingly, based on the lack of a communication and because
disclosure is not required on a blank voicemail as discussed above,
plaintiff’s claim must fail.”

Many consumers call and complain that they get hang ups from
collectors.  While a hang up, in and of itself, may not be
actionable under the
FDCPA
, a vast multitude of hang-ups done with the intent to
annoy or harass the consumer may very well be.  However, we
have also learned here that leaving a 20 second message where no
words are spoken will also not amount to a violation of the
FDCPA. 

Stop Debt Collector Harassment Now:
When you’re being pursued by debt collectors, you have
rights,  and we’re here to help. SmithMarco, P.C., has
over 30 years of combined experience practicing law protecting the
rights of consumers around the country.  If you feel that
you’re rights have been violated, please contact us for a free case review.