You take a break at work and find some voice mail messages. The weird thing is that your phone did not ring. How did these messages get here?
Lilian Min at Cosmopolitan covers this in a new story she has written. From Ms. Min “In the past couple of months, you might’ve noticed that you’ve been getting more voice mails. Sometimes, you might have voice mails waiting even though you didn’t have any corresponding missed calls. And when you opened those voice mails, perhaps you’d heard a telemarketer’s message.
This phenomenon, known as “ringless voice mail,” is a rising practice within the telemarketing industry (and particularly for debt collectors).”
The FCC is currently collecting comments on this practice. And, of course, there is a lawsuit on the issue already with one company being sued in Florida.
How does this affect debt collection? Well, a debt collector has certain time frames in which to send you letters AFTER the first communication with you. It is unclear if this is a communication. I think it is, but there is no case law on this.
Additionally, the FDCPA and Rosenthal Act say that a debt collector cannot call you after you notify them that you are represented by an attorney. But what if they never call you? Is it still a violation? Probably, but you need to document that they left you a voice mail.
In the meantime, contact the FCC and tell them that you do not think ringless voice mail should be allowed. Let your voice be heard. And if you receive one of these messages from a debt collector, talk to an attorney about your rights.