One of the most common way for a debt collection
agent to get in touch with an individual who has defaulted on a payment is over the telephone. Legitimate collectors are aware that there are certain guidelines, though at times the regulations and case law can come into conflict. Each recovery agent may have a preferred method they like to use when conducting their business.
The leading question posed in the recent LiquidEdge ARM Industry Poll taken in April was "Which messaging strategy do you use when trying to avoid lawsuits?" Over 44 percent indicated they tend to comply with the overarching Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. People using this method leave short messages and assure no other parties could become aware of the specific debt an individual owes. Pursuant with FDCPA section 805, part B, concerning communication of the debt, recovery agents cannot, without prior consent by the individual, communicate with anyone else on the matter. Exceptions outlined in the law include the debtor, their attorney, the creditor and the debt collecting agent's attorney. Such messages may be further regulated after the recent ruling from Zortman v. JC Christensen & Associates. Christina Zortman received a phone call from an agent on her cell phone, identifying the collector by name and indicating they had an important message for the woman. That the message had to do with a debt was not specified. Because Zortman's children heard the message, she claimed the communication violated section 805, though the judge ruled otherwise. United States District Judge Joan Ericksen ruled the message was not a communication under the FDCPA because Zortman was not identified by name and a debt was not specified. This ruling may not affect the 33.3 percent of collectors who take their cues from an earlier ruling, Foti v. NCO Financial Systems. In that case, the judge ruled that if an individual does not pick up their phone and a collector is faced with leaving a voicemail, they must either hang up or leave a long, scripted message identifying himself. An additional 22.2 percent of those questioned in the LiquidEdge survey said they do not like to leave messages via voicemail and would rather call back until they can speak to a live person.