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The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is designed to protect consumers from abusive or harassing conduct, false or misleading statements or unfair act by Debt Collectors.
What is TeleSpoofing and is it “false and misleading” under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act?
TELESPOOFING IN COLLECTIONS
As usual, we start with the statutory definition. Thanks to LII.
15 U.S.C. §1692d says
A debt collector may not engage in any conduct the natural consequence of which is to harass, oppress, or abuse any person in connection with the collection of a debt. Without limiting the general application of the foregoing, the following conduct is a violation of this section:
. . .
(6) Except as provided in section 1692b of this title, the placement of telephone calls without meaningful disclosure of the caller’s identity.
15 U.S.C. §1692e says
A debt collector may not use any false, deceptive, or misleading representation or means in connection with the collection of any debt. Without limiting the general application of the foregoing, the following conduct is a violation of this section:
. . .
(10) The use of any false representation or deceptive means to collect or attempt to collect any debt or to obtain information concerning a consumer.
. . .
What does this mean for you?
Knoll v. IntelliRisk Management Corporation, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 77467 (Lexis citation), 2006 WL 2974190(parallel WestLaw citation) (D. Minn. October 16, 2006), says that when a debt collector misrepresents his phone number (by TELESPOOFING) it is a misrepresentation of the identity of the caller, and therefore a misrepresentation that violates the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. 15 U.S.C. §1692e It also explains that the debt collector must meaningfully disclose his identity, and by misidentifying themselves be TELESPOOFING, they are not meaningfully disclosing their identity. 15 U.S.C. §1692d.
Debt collectors are allowed to use aliases, under some circumstances. For example, if they have a way to backtrack to determine who called, that would be permissible.
On the other hand, when they refuse to identify the name of the company they work for, they are not meaningfully disclosing their identity, and they are using a false and misleading means to collect a debt.
NON COLLECTIONS TELESPOOFING
But collections are not the only time we need to worry about TELESPOOFING. Scammers come in all types. There was a recent new story on my local Fox affiliate, in which they talked about telespoofing. There are a number of companies that provide the services, and the scammer can appear to be anyone they want to be. They can be your friend, your neighbor, your child or grandchild. And they often will ask for money.
In the story on the news, a local lady had a call from someone who said he was her grandson and he had been in an accident, and he needed $5,000.00. The Caller ID showed that it was from a hospital. So, she was all too happy to send money to her “grandson”. Only afterwards, did she realize that it was all a scam.
Can we get that money back? Maybe, but that will depend on if we are able to identify the culprit. It is easier with a debt collector, because they will either eventually tell you who they really are, or they will have you send the money somewhere. But if they have you send the money by Western Union, or other wire service, it may be all but unreachable.
Stay tuned and come visit us NEXT WEEK when we talk about COMMUNICATING WITH THE CONSUMER in collection practices.
If you have been impacted by anything we mentioned here, you can make an appointment to see us.
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OUR LEGAL FEES:
The rights afforded to you, as a consumer, under the FCRA and the FDCPA means that a corporation or party who has violated your rights may ultimately be made to pay for statutory damages, actual damages, and your legal fees. Therefore, if we agree to represent you in any case, you won’t pay any attorney’s fees unless we are successful and we recover on your behalf. We are here to serve and have assisted many consumers TO enforce their legal rights. Let us try and see if we can help you too. That means you pay no fee in your case unless we recover.
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Krumbein Consumer Legal Services, Inc.
1650 Willow Lawn Drive
Richmond, VA 23230