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DISCLAIMER: This article is based on a complaint. The defendant has not responded to the complaint to present its side of the case. The claims mentioned are accusations and should be considered as such until and unless proven otherwise.
Voicemails. They can be a legal minefield for collectors. Especially those that choose to say something other than Foti, Zortman, or the Limited Content Message. Straying from those has led one collection operation to face a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act suit for making the collection efforts of the defendant seem “more serious than mere debt collection.”
A copy of the complaint, filed in the District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, can be accessed by using case number 23-cv-00798 or by clicking here.
A representative of the defendant left two voicemails for the plaintiff, a few days apart from one another. According to the complaint, the first voicemail said:
“Good afternoon, Karen Ureste. My name is Andre Stokes. Could you please return my call? There’s some important information, madam, I must discuss with you. I don’t know if you’re aware or not of what’s taken place, but it’s important you return my call. Hopefully I’ll get the opportunity to go over some solutions with you, to try to help you resolve this matter. However, if I don’t hear from you or you’re unwilling to resolve this matter, I’ve been instructed to make a decision. My contact number you’re gonna need is 716-846-1064. Thank you so much.”
The second voicemail said:
“Good morning, Karen Ureste. My name is Andre Stokes. I’m calling from ICR regarding your Synchrony Bank PayPal credit account. Could you please return to my call? Unfortunately, Madam, due to the lack of response from you, they’re getting ready to make a decision on you regarding, the matter that you have in my office. This is something that you wanna voluntarily resolve, I encourage you to return my call today, (716) 846-1064.”
The plaintiff, rather than returning either message, filed suit and accused the defendant of violating the FDCPA because the messages implied that involuntary methods of collection would be used if the account were not paid immediately. A least sophisticated consumer, according to the complaint, would believe that a garnishment or bank levy would be used, or that the defendant was going to file a lawsuit to collect on the debt.
Furthermore, the defendant never identified itself as a debt collector. The complaint accuses the defendant of violating Sections 1692d(6), 1692e, 1692f(6), and 1692g(a) of the FDCPA as well as state law in Texas.