Although this mainly is dealing with Debt Collectors and their calls the second one concerning the recording of calls should be of interest to anyone who is a scam buster since it is a useful tool.

Telephone Messages

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals (which provides controlling precedent for Georgia) recently issued an important decision that struck down a somewhat bizarre argument by a debt collector regarding phone messages. This case benefits consumers by clarifying the rules about telephone messages by bill collectors.

The case of Edwards v. Niagara Credit Solutions involved a situation in which the debt collector (Niagara) left "bare bones" messages on a phone answering machine asking Ms. Edwards to call back about an "important matter."

Niagara argued that its employee did not identify itself as a debt collector because someone other than the debtor might hear the message, thus violating the "third party communications" prohibition.

The 11th Circuit rejected Niagara's argument, stating that it is not permissible to violate one provision of the FDCPA in order to comply with another provision. The Court further noted that the FDCPA does not guarantee a debt collector the right to leave answering machine messages.

What does this mean to you? If an unknown party leaves you a message asking that you call about an "important matter" you should save the message and contact a lawyer knowledgeable about FDCPA actions. If a debt collector leaves you a message and identifies himself as a representative of a collection agency or otherwise discusses a debt that you may owe, save that message as well. You may have a cause of action for damages.

And this one

Debt Collectors Beware Federal Court Rules One Party Consent Telephone Recordings Are Okay

Over the last several years there has been an ongoing debate regarding the lawfulness of one party telephone conversation recording, such as recording a debt collector making illegal, abusive and threatening phone calls. To date consumers only had their own state laws one the legality of one-party consent phone calls (only one person being aware or consenting to the recording).

The US 2nd circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that as long as your aren’t recording a conversation to commit a crime (i.e. blackmail, fraud etc.) then you have a legal right to record telephone or person-to-person conversations without having to obtain consent of all parties involved.

“We affirm, and, in so doing, hold that the exception to the one-party consent provision of 18 U.S.C. § 2511(2)(d) requires that a communication be intercepted for the purpose of a tortious or criminal act that is independent of the intentional act of recording,” the New York-based federal appeals court said.

Since Federal Law trumps state one-party and two-party consent laws, consumers now have a very powerful tool to catch unscrupulous debt collectors in the act. So bad debt collectors beware, we’ll be recording you and if you break the law the process servers will be knocking at YOUR door.