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Foti messages can land debt collectors in hot water

Jul 25, 2013 Philip Burgess

Foti messages can land debt collectors in hot water

Debt collection agencies can often have trouble contacting consumers to address accounts. Some debtors may avoid calls, while it may simply be difficult to get in touch with them at their homes during normal business hours. Since contacting consumers at work might be a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), debt services professionals often attempt to employ novel strategies to reach out to individuals. Many make several phone calls a day, leaving various messages for debtors. During this process, it can be easy to forget to disclose the reason for the call. Although it may seem like a harmless and innocent occurrence, it can be a litigation minefield for collectors.

Termed a Foti message, insideARM recently reported that one collection agency was fined and prohibited from using Foti messages in the future by the FTC. Although the company believed that the strategy could be used in certain circumstances, FTC officials ruled that it was an illegal practice, shaking up the debt collection industry.

The Debt Collection Drill stated that a message left for a consumer should include disclosure of why the call is being made and who or what agency is initiating the contact. Also, the source noted that it's extremely important for a collection agent to verify that they are leaving voicemail on the right phone. If no recorded message is displayed identifying the owner or user of the phone, collectors should avoid leaving a message.

Although leaving messages can be an attractive and easy option for debt professionals, it should only be done if it is absolutely necessary. Instead, collectors would be wise to attempt to reach a debtor in person so that they ensure that they comply with FDCPA regulations.