Dealing with Debt Collectors - I
1. Keep your voice mails or phone messagesIn the hallmark case of FOTI v. NCO FINANCIAL SYSTEMS, INC., in the U.S. D.C for the Southern District of N.Y, the court determined that a debt collector may be in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by leaving a message on your voice mail that doesn't identify them as a debt collector. So, initially, all you need to do is keep your voice mails! The offending voice mail in the Foti case went like this:
"Good day, we are calling from NCO Financial Systems regarding a personal business matter that requires your immediate attention. Please call back 1-866-701-1275 once again please call back, toll-free, 1-866-701-1275, this is not a solicitation."
Based on this voice mail, the court found that the debt collector may have violated the FDCPA 15 U.S.C. ? 1692e(11), for not identifying itself as a "Collector' or 'Debt Collector". Moreover, if it is the FIRST contact, the debt collector must notify you of your right to dispute the debt and get verification
2. Buy a tape recorderIf you are receiving harassing calls from debt collector, or even if the debt collector is saying things that don't make sense to you, or confuse you, the best course of action is to record your conversations. Recording phone conversations is perfectly legal in Michigan, as long as you are a party to the phone call, see Sullivan v. Gray, 342 N.W. 2d 58, 60-61 (Mich. Ct. App. 1982)}. Other states require you to notify the other party.
I usually recommend the OlympusVN-6200PC which will allow you to place an earpiece in your ear and make the phone call. Every sent or received call will be recorded on the attached recording device. It's easy to use and it costs around $50.00. You can get it at any Best Buy or Radio Shack store. However, any device that will clearly record a conversation is fine. Be sure to make and receive some test calls to your friends or family before using with debt collectors. This will allow you to adjust the volume and see of both parties can be heard clearly.