Reminder- Voicemail Office Policy
This month we are highlighting the current Nagle & Zaller policy with respect to leaving voicemail messages for delinquent homeowners. As you may be aware, in 2016 our office formally adopted a policy on leaving messages based on cutting-edge case law emerging from courts around the county at that time. We want to remind you of our policy and the reasons why we implemented it a few years ago. Further, a couple new cases have been decided on this issue since 2016 that have reaffirmed the need to manage how and when we leave voicemail messages for delinquent homeowners.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) governs, among other things, communications with consumers, which includes delinquent homeowners. The FDCPA explicitly prohibits communications with third parties about a consumer’s debt. This extends to communications that may be heard by a third party, such as on a voicemail message. Accordingly, based on the relevant case law addressing communications under the FDCPA, it is our policy not to leave a voicemail for a delinquent homeowner if an answering message does not clearly identify the homeowner by first and last name, and/or if the answering message identifies anyone, other than the delinquent homeowner, who may receive messages at that number. In such instances, we cannot establish that the number is solely used by the delinquent homeowner; and therefore, we will not leave a voicemail message to avoid the risk of running afoul of the FDCPA’s privacy provisions.
Communications with delinquent homeowners is important to our collection efforts and, as such, given the opportunity, it is our policy to obtain written consent from the delinquent homeowner to leave messages on specific numbers. However, we cannot always obtain this consent, and, without it, our policy is not to leave a voicemail message. Please keep this in mind if a delinquent homeowner contacts the Board or management indicating that they have not received responses to their phone calls from our office. More often than not, we have attempted to return the homeowner’s call but the answering machine message does not provide sufficient information for us to leave a voicemail. Our monthly status reports should reflect all attempts to contact a delinquent homeowner, including those times when we are unable to leave a voicemail message due to the FDCPA’s regulations. If a delinquent homeowner attempts to communicate with the Board or management regarding his/her account after it is turned over to our office for collections, we respectfully request that you forward such information to our office and/or instruct the delinquent homeowner to contact our office directly.
Please contact the managing attorney for collections, Laura Curry, at [email protected] or 410-740-8100 ext. 102 if you have any questions regarding our voicemail office policy.