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When a debt collection agency is assigned a debt for collection from the original creditor, whether it is a credit card charge-off, medical bill, cell phone charge, or otherwise, the debtor collection agency almost always starts with the same two actions: one, mail a generic demand letter, known as a “dunning” letter, to you; and two, start making calls to you.
Recently, the courts looked at how to treat telephone messages left for a debtor before and after the debtor received that initial demand letter.
In Makreas v. The Moore Law Group, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 117233 (North District of California, 2011), The Moore Law Group, one of the largest collections agencies masquerading as a law firm in California, was attempting to collect a debt from Makreas. The Moore Law Group left multiple voicemails for Makreas. Some of the voicemails were left before Makreas received the initial demand letter and some were left after Makreas received the initial demand letter.
All of the voicemails, unfortunately, were heard by third parties — Makreas’ family members and/or other living in the same house.
The court’s ruling is clear — there is no violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) or California’s Rosenthal Act for the messages left before Makreas received the initial demand letter because there is no way Makreas could have known why The Moore Law Group was calling. But once Makreas received the initial demand letter, all voicemails left after such time are potential violations of the FDCPA and/or Rosenthal Act.
So beware. If a collector leaves a voicemail for you about a debt, call us. We can help. We will stop the calls. We will stop the messages. And we will do it all without costing you a penny.
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