In an Order dated this month, a Federal Judge in New York determined that a decision he rendered in the matter of Halberstam v. Global Credit and Collection Corp.(U.S. District Court, ED, NY, 15-cv-5696 (BMC) be certified for an immediate interlocutory appeal.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) case involved leaving a message with a person who answers the debtor’s phone. The issue presented in the case was whether a debt collector, whose phone call to a debtor is answered by a third party may leave his name and number for the debtor to return the call- without disclosing that he is a debt collector – or whether the debt collector must refrain from leaving call back information and simply attempt to make the call at a later time.
In the May 5, 2016 Memorandum, Decision, and Order Judge Brian M. Cogan wrote:
“I had no doubt, and I remain of the view, that the purpose of leaving such a message was to induce plaintiff to return the collection agent’s call without knowing that he was calling a collection agent. Describing the purpose of the call to a third party as a “personal business matter” was at least as suggestive, and probably more, of a business opportunity for plaintiff to make money as it was of its true purpose, which was to cause plaintiff to pay money. I granted summary judgment for plaintiff because I found that by leaving a message for plaintiff with a third party that was calculated to induce a return call without the debtor knowing that he would be calling a collection company, defendant violated section 1692c(b) of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”).
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) was designed to help prevent creditor abuse and harassment.
Further, the issue of whether leaving a message with a third party violates the FDCPA has the potential to impact a large number of other cases, as well as debt collection practices more generally.”
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