DEFINITION of 'Mini-Miranda Rights'

Mini-Miranda rights are a statement a debt collector must use when contacting an individual to collect a debt. Mini-Miranda rights have to be recited if the debt collection effort is being made over the phone or in person. If the collection agency sends a letter to the debtor, the Mini-Miranda rights should be in written form. If the debt collector phones the debtor, the Mini-Miranda rights require the collector to inform the debtor that the call is from a debt collector, that he or she is calling to collect a debt, and that any information obtained during the phone call will be used to collect the debt.

BREAKING DOWN 'Mini-Miranda Rights'

Mini-Miranda is not an official term, but rather a colloquialism. It prevents a debt collector from using false pretenses in furtherance of collecting a debt. For instance, a heavily indebted person may use a fictitious name when answering the phone to avoid calls from collection agencies. While an easy solution for a debt collector would be to not reveal his or her true identity and the purpose of the call so as to get through to the indebted person, the Mini-Miranda specifically prohibits such tactics by debt collectors.

Mini-Miranda gets its name from the Miranda rights or Miranda Warning, used by law-enforcement officers when they collar a suspect in a crime. The actual Miranda Warning states that the suspect has the right to remain silent, that anything said by the suspect can and will be used against him or her in a court of law, and that the suspect has the right to an attorney.

Mini-Miranda Rights and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)

Just as the Miranda Warning came about to protect suspects from intimidation efforts by law-enforcement officers, the Mini-Miranda was introduced to safeguard consumers from abusive debt collection practices and was specified in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) of 1977. The Act prohibits debt collectors from using harassment, threats, deceit, or intimidation to collect debts.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) also specifies the time of day and frequency with which contact can be made between a debt collector and debtor. For example, debt collectors should not contact debtors at inconvenient times (i.e. significantly outside of business hours) unless prior arrangement has been made. In addition debt collectors may call a debtor’s place of business or home; however, if the debtor requests that the collector cease calling either number, and puts the request in writing, the collector must abide by the statement. A collector may call relatives, neighbors, and/or associates of the debtor in the event the previous two numbers are not available.

If the FDCPA is violated, a suit may be brought against the debt collection company, along with the individual debt collector, within one year of the violation.

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