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Senior Contributor
Noah_Bodie
Posts: 4,635
Registered: ‎03-11-2007
0

Abusive Phone Calls

It is not just from back in the bad old days that CAs would use abusive, profane, threatening language in the performance of their collection activity. It happens today. I just watched Maxed Out, and I was shocked that CAs and JDBs would admit to violating the law in such a cavalier manner on tape.
 
Read here how legislators in Nevada are seeking to improve the ability of consumers to record abusive calls.
 
 
"... a Federal Trade Commission Report that said complaints against third-party debt collectors were the highest of any industry ..."
 
If you are experiencing it, you do not have to take it. The law is very much on your side and there are steps you can take that will either put an end to it or build a solid case about which a good consumer lawyer would love to talk with you.
 
I personally know how it feels. I have heard threats from CAs about seizing bank accounts, getting judgments, taking 75% of my paycheck, et al. I have heard profane and abusive language. Problem is that I did not know then what I know now.
 
FDCPA
 
 
Read the FTC Staff Opinion Letters.
http://www.ftc.gov/os/statutes/fdcpa/letters.shtm
 
Read the entire Act and familiarize yourself with it. In particular read §804, §805, §806, §807 and §808. Despite being the law, it is not overly legalistic.
http://www.ftc.gov/os/statutes/fdcpa/fdcpact.shtm
 
If you have a question, feel free to ask. I am not a lawyer, and there are not any known to frequent this forum, but I can give you my layman's read on the law. If I think there is a violation, I will point you to a consumer lawyer. I am told there are one or two other people on this forum with strident opinions.
 
Recording
 
Let us assume the absolute worst. You are getting calls. Mean, nasty, abusive calls. Profanity, threats of violence, threats of lawsuits, and threats of jail. Threats to put your kids in foster care, bulldoze your house, drop your car in the ocean, euthanize your pets, and ship you off to Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo Bay.
 
Hallelujah! Jackpot! You win. You win and you win big.
 
In all seriousness, if you are getting phone calls that are abusive, profane or threatening (violence or lawsuits), get yourself a telephone recorder.
 
There is this slick device that records to your PC--for $150--and you will need to leave your computer on all the time.
http://www.pimall.com/nais/Digitalevidencerecorder.html
 
Radio Shack has telephone recorders for around $60.
 
This is a $50 piece of software that works with your PC and modem. Again, have to leave the computer on all the time.
http://www.callcorder.com/
 
Here is a low-tech approach. A telephone log of CA calls. Judges are said to like these a lot.
http://www.lawpoint.com/collection_log.asp
 
Recording Laws
 
See whether your state's laws require that you to notify when recording and whether you have to obtain explicit consent.
http://www.rcfp.org/taping/states.html
 
If you are not sure, ask, and I will point you to the pertinent language.
 
Call your state AG's office. Their consumer division can likely tell you if the law in your state says whether you have to notify and whether you have to obtain consent to record.
 
One Party Notification
 
Some states are considered One Party States--meaning only one party to the call needs to be aware of or consent to the recording. You are a party to the call, you are doing the recording, so you are the only one who needs to know about or consent to the recording. In short, don't ask and don't tell. Just record the call. If they do not know they are being recorded, then they are more likely to violate the law. That is to your advantage.
 
All Party Notification
 
Other states are considered All Party States--meaning all parties to the call need to be aware of the recording. Some mistakenly refer to these as Two Party States, but there can be more than just two parties involved in a phone call. In an All Party State, you have to notify, so you notify. As with DV, keep it simple. Switch on the recorder and say, "I am now recording this phone call."
 
You could state additional things. The date, time, your name, your number, the name, and number showing on your Caller ID unit, etc. You could elicit from the other party that they state their name, number and the company they represent.
 
I would not. You complied with the law and told them you were recording. That's enough. If you say a lot, then it might sound like a legal notification and you are building evidence for a lawsuit. That might make them suddenly behave and comply with the law. I would not give them that out. I notify that I am recording, and if they want to hang themselves by threatening me, let them. I am under no obligation--moral or ethical--to advise or counsel them that a legally recorded phone conversation can make a potent bit of evidence in a FDCPA lawsuit.
 
If they transfer you to a supervisor, or place you on hold, when they come back on I would restate, "I am still recording this phone call."
 
All Party Notification and Consent
 
Still other states require both notification and consent. All Party Consent States. These are the worst. You have to notify all parties to the call that you are going to record, and then you have to obtain their consent.
 
If a CA is placing abusive calls, then what is the likelihood they are going to consent to you recording the call? You are right. Not very bloody likely. However, they could be colossally stupid, so go ahead, state your intention to record, and ask for their consent. "I intend to record this call. Do you consent?" The more definitive of a statement you can get them to make, the better. Ideally, they will state their name, date, time, company they represent, corporate address, phone number from which they are calling, and something like, "Yes, I consent to the recording of this phone conversation."
 
If they will not consent, then you could simply tell them you do not talk to ghosts and hang up. Alternatively, you could use the collection log idea, and scribble some notes. Keep a spiral notebook near the phone. Write down their name, company they represent, address, phone number, date, time, reason for their call. If they say anything out of line, or even questionable, write it down. Ask them to repeat it. It is always legal for you to take notes about a phone conversation in progress.
 
You could enlist the aid of a spouse. Have them pick up another receiver and take notes. You also are not required to tell them another person is on the phone taking notes. Two sets of ears corroborating the same thing tend to carry more weight than the word of one person.
 
Call your state AG's office and ask about your options when dealing with an abusive caller who will not consent.
 
Final Thoughts
 
Caller ID is also a great thing to have if you are getting nasty calls. Keep a disposable camera handy and snap a picture of the Caller ID unit showing the time and date of the abusive call you received. More evidence to bolster and support your claims of abuse.
New Visitor
the_c0llector
Posts: 3
Registered: ‎07-14-2007
0

Maxed Out

I watched it too, and was appauled at the way these collectors were handling these accounts. as stated above KNOW YOUR FDCPA!!!! It will save you in the long run.
Just to add to that if you live in certain states they have laws that we have to follow above and beyond the fdcpa so know your legal rights in whatever state you live in too.
And by all means report the problem.
Established Contributor
trinigal
Posts: 578
Registered: ‎06-18-2007
0

Re: Abusive Phone Calls

Noah,
 
This info is great but as per usual I do not understand legal jargon.  Geez! Why can't they use plain english. Anyhow, can you give me in plain english whether I can record in the state of VA and if I have to let them know I'm doing so?
Moderator Emeritus
HappyDays
Posts: 7,326
Registered: ‎06-18-2007
0

Re: Abusive Phone Calls

GREAT POST!!
 
EVERYONE needs to contact their state to see if the law was changed or updated!! The post is an outline of laws.
I am in Connecticut and I called the Ct. law Libary. I received an email with all current Federal & Ct.state laws.
 
They go futher then the outline post. As a general rule I must state that I am recording BUT If # 2 or #3 apply I DO NOT need to announce that I am recording
 

2. anyone who receives threats of extortion, bodily harm, or other unlawful requests or demands;

3. anyone who receives calls repeatedly or at an extremely inconvenient hour

  Need not to announce!

When recording I always say: "oh I am recording this conversation"  They usually don't believe you.

another thing ALWAYS start your recording before you talk to anyone. I start mine before anyone answers the phone or the minute I answer the call. You MUST have the *I am recording on the tape*!

 By doing this I can use in Federal & State court.

 

People find out all the laws in the state that you live not just the basic. It might be in your benefit

Established Member
Bobcat54
Posts: 40
Registered: ‎07-04-2007
0

Re: Abusive Phone Calls

what about perverted posts on a forum? their okay?
Valued Contributor
TheNewWorldMan
Posts: 2,374
Registered: ‎03-15-2007
0

Re: Abusive Phone Calls



posterbob wrote:
what about perverted posts on a forum? their okay?





Perverted posts on this forum are a great way to get banned, collection agency or not. As for other forums, that's up to their admins.
- - - -
in a credit-scoring postnuclear Stone Age...
Senior Contributor
Noah_Bodie
Posts: 4,635
Registered: ‎03-11-2007
0

Re: Abusive Phone Calls



trinigal wrote:
Why can't they use plain english. Anyhow, can you give me in plain english whether I can record in the state of VA and if I have to let them know I'm doing so?

 
Title 19.2, Chapter 6, is required reading on the subject in Virginia. Yeah, the legislature of the Commonwealth went outta their way to obfuscate the issue.
 
19.2-62 appears to have been updated. There's different info than what RCFP is reporting.
 
I would contact the AG's office and ask.
Don't tell 'em you know the Title and Chapter. In fact, don't mention Code of Virginia. They might think you've been reading the statutes and you want their interpretation.
 
I would tell them you know that Federal law allows you to record without asking, and you want to know what Virginia laws says. By playing dumb, you might get them to reveal a lot. Might even give you caselaw references or AG opinions on the subject.
 
Senior Contributor
Noah_Bodie
Posts: 4,635
Registered: ‎03-11-2007
0

Re: Abusive Phone Calls

Senior Contributor
Noah_Bodie
Posts: 4,635
Registered: ‎03-11-2007
0

Re: Abusive Phone Calls

[ Edited ]
If you are receiving calls from CAs, you just want them to stop calling, but for whatever reason you don't want to tape them and sue them, you do have other options.

Change Your Number

You can change your phone number to an unlisted and unpublished number. They can probably still find you if they try hard enough, but it will deter many CAs. An unlisted and unpublished number does generally cost you a small monthly fee on your phone bill. And make sure the telco does NOT provide a forwarding message. You don't want callers to get forwarded to your new unlisted and unpublished number.

Go Cellular

You could dump your "land line" and live off your cell phone. I know more and more people who are doing this. Cell phones are much harder to find.

Technology and Telco Services

You can employ technology to battle CA calls. An answering machine lets you screen callers, but some folks are still bothered by the answering machine messages. Voicemail thru your local telco isolates you a bit more. Caller ID lets you see who's calling. Telcos offer many services that let you block certain numbers--presuming the CA keeps calling from the same number or set of numbers. If you have Caller ID, you can generally block callers who hide their Caller ID info from you with services such as Anonymous Caller Rejection.

Caller ID Manager

There are a number of devices out on the market, and I've been considering this one myself--the Caller ID Manager.
http://www.privacycorps.com/products/?id=20
With just Caller ID service thru your local telco, you gain a LOT of powerful features and no monthly fee for those features. You can block up to 175 numbers, area codes or prefixes. You can decide whether to send the call to your answering machine or voicemail, or to ignore the caller completely without ringing your phone. I really like the sound of that. It just rings and rings (for them), but no answer, no voicemail, no answering machine. A CA or a telemarketer would probably waste a bit of time checking and rechecking the number, then calling again. But you'll never hear your phone ring.

Letters

You could send a letter to the CA, and you have at least two options available.

First would be a C&D or cease and desist. However, I must strongly caution you, do NOT send a C&D unless you are absolutely certain you are out from under the SOL. If you send a C&D, and they can still sue, they likely will. This is advice I wish I had given to myself. Don't rely upon the SOL info at bankrate (even though it's pretty good) and don't even rely upon what's shown in the statutes online for your state. Believe it or not, despite occasional clarity in the statutes on SOL, there is caselaw in more than one state that throws the issue of SOL completely for a loop and leaves the question undecided. KY, GA and WA are three states where I know this to be the case. SOL for CCs could be X or it could be Y. All depends upon the judge and which caselaw they choose to follow.

Personally, with what I know now, I will almost never send a C&D. If I feel the need to send a C&D, there's probably a violation being committed and I need to do something to help dissuade the bad behavior. Lawsuits and the threat of lawsuits are the only thing that will make CAs behave--even then it don't always work.

The other option, and the one I would recommend, is to send a simple letter to the CA. Don't even bother sending it CMRRR. It's an inexpensive 41 cent bluff. Send only your name and address. No SSN, no DOB, no account number, no phone number, nothing. Simply state:

"My employer does not permit personal calls at work, and all calls to my home number are recorded. Please communicate with me only in writing."

Telling them not to call work is an implied reference to the protections in FCRA. They cannot call work if they know that you cannot accept such calls, and telling them as much seems to be good enough for most courts. If they still call you at work, you probably have them on a violation.

Telling them not to call you at home carries no weight at all under law--unless, somewhere, there's a state law in some state that allows this, but I kinda doubt it. Since you've already referenced FCRA, in a backhanded manner, perhaps they'll presume you're someone who knows the law and someone with whom they should not screw.

Telling them you record calls, whether you do or not, is a threat they may or may not heed. They might decide this schmoe records, so I can't use all my best stuff. Or they might decide you're bluffing and they might call anyway. If they do call, it's likely they are one of the dumber, more obstinate and abusive CAs so you will probably need to escalate the fight and really start recording them if you can.


Message Edited by Noah_Bodie on 07-18-2007 01:33 PM
Member
deuce
Posts: 26
Registered: ‎11-14-2007
0

Re: Abusive Phone Calls



Noah_Bodie wrote:
If you are receiving calls from CAs, you just want them to stop calling, but for whatever reason you don't want to tape them and sue them, you do have other options.


Message Edited by Noah_Bodie on 07-18-2007 01:33 PM





One of the easiest ways CAs find your number, that I know of at least, is from pizza delivery. Believe it or not, and I can't cite any resources on this for several reasons, but there are actually companies that contract with major pizza companies such as Dominos and keep databases of all names and numbers that Dominos collects when they deliver your pizza. When a CA needs to find current info for a pool of accounts they pay a few pennies per name and usually turn out a good amount of current numbers.

Think about it. What do you do for dinner the first night you move, after hauling boxes, making sure you have a clear spot somewhere to sleep that first night, etc? Seems reasonable that people have pizza delivered. Someone got a raise on that idea.

Just a tid bit.

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