UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
September 13, 1996
Christopher Stanley, Esq.
Dear Mr. Stanley:
Reference is made to your letters of May 8 and July 9, 1996, concerning a "Telegram Notification" sent by your client, a telecommunications company, to consumer debtors. The facts are as stated in your letters and I incorporate them by reference in this reply. The question is whether your client is covered by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) (copy enclosed).
In order for a service provided by your client to fall within the scope of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, your client must be covered, i.e., it must be a "debt collector" under Section 803(6). That Section defines a "debt collector" as someone who "... regularly collects or attempts to collect, directly or indirectly, debts owed or due or asserted to be owed or due another" (emphasis mine). As part of your client's service to debt collection agencies or credit providers, it proposes to sent a letter to alleged debtors. The purpose of the letter is two-fold: first, to alert recipients of the letter to a voice-mail message left in their names at an 800 number, and second, to obtain recipients' telephone numbers so that they can be contacted by a creditor or collector in connection with the collection of debts allegedly owed by them to third parties. To the extent that the letter serves a collection function (albeit an indirect collection function), which we believe it does, it brings your client within the coverage of the FDCPA.
Since your client would be covered by the Act, its collection communications would have to comply with the Act. Among other things, this means that the letter referred to above must disclose that your client is attempting to collect a debt and any information obtained will be used for that purpose, in accordance with Section 807(11) of the FDCPA.
I hope this responds to your inquiry.
John F. LeFevre