Collector - August 2020 - 43

COMPLIANCE

notes, "The propriety of blocking or
otherwise preventing disclosure of caller
identity is unsettled."
Zortman cites Jiminez v. Accounts
Receivable Mgmt., Inc., No. CV 09-9070,
2010 WL 5829206, at *6 (C.D.Cal. Nov. 15,
2010), which states: "[I]t is not impossible
to imagine some scenario in which a debt
collector's hanging up without leaving
any identifying information might entail
a violation of the statute [referring to the
identification requirement] (for example, if
the debt collector used some form of caller
identification blocking device)."
To date, however, those "right facts" have
not yet been presented to any federal court.
The only federal court that has squarely
considered this issue on the merits found
that, where a collection agency had used
*67 to prevent its number from appearing
on the consumer's caller ID, "the display
in [the consumer's] caller ID device of the
word 'unavailable' was entirely accurate.
[The agency] allegedly acted to make its
telephone number unavailable to the caller
ID devices of the individuals it telephoned.
Such was accurately communicated to
[the consumer] when his caller ID device
displayed the word 'unavailable.'"
The court in Glover v. Client Servs., Inc.,
No. 1:07-CV-81, 2007 WL 2902209, (W.D.
Mich. Oct. 2, 2007), discerned "nothing
false or deceptive about [this]." It cited
Accord Plumb v. Barclays Bank Delaware,
No. CV-11-3090-RMP, 2012 WL 2046506,
at *6 (E.D. Wash., June 5, 2012), which
noted, "Transmission by a debt collector
of 'unavailable' to a caller ID device is not
false or deceptive behavior under section
1692d(6) of the FDCPA."
In short, when it comes to caller ID
blocking using *67 and compliance with
FDCPA Section 1692e(10), the watchword
for agency compliance should be "accuracy."

FDCPA AND SECTION 1692D:
MEANINGFUL DISCLOSURE?
Caller ID blocking via *67 raises additional
compliance concerns under FDCPA
Section 1692d(6)'s "meaningful disclosure"
requirement, which mandates that a
collector may not place a telephone call

COLLECTOR 08.20

"When it comes to using *67 and compliance with
FDCPA Section 1692e(10), the watchword for
agency compliance should be 'accuracy.'"

without making a "meaningful disclosure
of the caller's identity."
In this vein, however, the Glover court
held that the "FDCPA does not require debt
collectors to identify themselves twice during
a single telephone call," meaning that if the
collector provides meaningful disclosure
during the call itself (including via voicemail
message, if the collector leaves one), then
meaningful disclosure via caller ID would be
irrelevant. (Emphasis added.)
Another federal district court has gone
further, suggesting that caller ID data could
never satisfy the FDCPA's meaningful
disclosure requirement and implying that
it would be folly for a court to attempt to
squeeze the square "caller ID" peg into the
round "meaningful disclosure" hole.
In Cliche v. Receivables Performance
Mgmt., LLC, No. 310CV00019WBHAJB,
2010 WL 11646952, at *7 (N.D. Ga. Nov.
3, 2010), the court noted that from "the
allegation Plaintiff provides, it appears that he
believes a violation can occur even without a
conversation at all, merely by calling from a
blocked or private number. It is difficult to see
how this could be so, given the information
that must be disclosed. (Emphasis added.)
On the opposite end of the spectrum,
however, at least one federal district court has
suggested-although it did not hold-that
under the right fact pattern, caller ID blocking
could run afoul of the FDCPA's meaningful
disclosure rule. Isaac v. RMB, Inc., No.
2:12-CV-2030-TMP, 2014 WL 1278096, at *8
(n.15) (N.D. Ala., Mar. 27, 2014), aff 'd, 604 F.
App'x 818 (11th Cir. 2015) stated:
"The court finds that the disclosure
requirement of § 1692d(6) is met as long as
the debt collector does not attempt to block
caller ID of his call. It is not necessary that the
debt collector remain on the line to disclose his

identity further because doing so creates other
risks for the debt collector under the FDCPA.
Under § 1692e(11), if the debt collector
remains on the call and identifies himself to
what is believed to be an answering machine,
the message must also disclose that the
purpose of the call is to collect a debt. Making
that disclosure, however, also runs the risk that
someone other than the debtor will hear the
message, amounting to communicating with
a third person about the debt, potentially in
violation of § 1692c(b). As the Eleventh Circuit
noted in Edwards v. Niagara Credit Solutions,
Inc., 584 F.3d 1350 (11th Cir. 2009), the debt
collector may choose not to leave a message."
In sum, when it comes to federal decisional
law, if a debt collector contacts a consumer
via telephone and uses *67 caller ID blocking,
a compliance risk appears to be present only
under the most hostile judicial interpretation of
the applicable FDCPA requirements and only
when the call goes to voicemail and the caller
chooses not to leave a voicemail message that
complies with either Foti or Zortman. And even
there, the compliance risk would appear to be
a potential concern only in the 11th Circuit, at
least based on judicial decisions issued to date.

MORE TO COME
In next month's issue of Collector magazine,
we'll take a look at the state laws that may
affect compliance when it comes to the use
of *67 caller ID blocking. Until then, read
ACA SearchPoint documents #1168 ("Caller
ID Issues"); #3067 ("State Caller ID Laws");
and #3066 ("TCPA: Caller ID").
Colin Winkler is ACA International's
corporate counsel.
Look for part two of this article in our
September 2020 issue.

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