Can a Debt Collector Leave a Message on Voicemail?

Under the federal FDCPA, collectors may leave only limited-content voicemails.

By , Attorney · Case Western Reserve University School of Law
Updated by Amy Loftsgordon, Attorney · University of Denver Sturm College of Law

The federal Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) places limitations on how and when a debt collector can contact you, and what it says when it does. That includes leaving voicemails. Also, threatening language is illegal under the FDCPA.

FDCPA Limitations on Voicemails

As of November 30, 2021, amendments to the FDCPA permits a collector to leave voicemails, which could be heard by someone other than the debtor. But the voicemail must be a "limited-content message." A debt collector who leaves a limited-content message doesn't violate the FDCPA's prohibition against third-party communications.

A limited-content message is a voicemail that includes the following:

  • a business name for the debt collector that doesn't indicate that the debt collector is in the debt collection business
  • a request that you reply to the message
  • the name or names of one or more natural persons whom you can contact to reply to the debt collector, and
  • a telephone number or numbers that you can use to reply to the debt collector.

In addition, a limited-content message may include one or more of the following:

  • a salutation
  • the date and time of the message
  • suggested dates and times for you to reply to the message, and
  • a statement that if you reply, you may speak to any of the company's representatives or associates. (12 C.F.R. § 1006.2(j)).

But the voicemail can't contain any other information.

FDCPA Protections Against Threatening Language

In general, a collection agency can't harass, oppress, or abuse you when trying to collect a debt. Under the FDCPA, the collector can't:

  • use or threaten to use violence
  • harm or threaten to harm you, another person, or your or another person's reputation or property, or
  • use obscene, profane, or abusive language.

Your state's laws might provide you with additional protection.

Talk to an Attorney

If you think you're being harassed or treated unfairly by a debt collector, consider talking to an attorney to learn more about your rights.

Get Professional Help
Get debt relief now.
We've helped 205 clients find attorneys today.
There was a problem with the submission. Please refresh the page and try again
Full Name is required
Email is required
Please enter a valid Email
Phone Number is required
Please enter a valid Phone Number
Zip Code is required
Please add a valid Zip Code
Please enter a valid Case Description
Description is required

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you