Mini Miranda Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
When third-party debt collectors contact you by mail or phone, one of the first things they'll say is, "This is an attempt to collect a debt and any information obtained will be used for that purpose." This statement is commonly referred to as the "mini Miranda" because it is similar to the Miranda rights that law enforcement must use to warn suspects of their right to remain silent, the right to an attorney, and the right to a court-appointed attorney if the person can’t afford one.
Instances When the Mini Miranda Must Be Stated
Debt collectors are only required to give the full mini Miranda in their initial communication with you, no matter what form. The first time a third-party debt collector speaks with you or sends you a letter, the full mini Miranda statement must be included. The disclaimer keeps debt collectors from tricking you into giving up information that can be used against you.
If a third-party debt collection agency or collection attorney contacts you and doesn't give the disclosure, it has violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the law that governs what debt collectors can and can't do. If a debt collector has spoken with you in the past and now mails you a letter but does not include the full mini Miranda in the letter, they are in violation of the law. Even if you initiate contact with a third-party debt collector, they are still required to read you the mini Miranda.
If the debt collector fails to tell you your mini Miranda rights at the beginning of any of these forms of communication, you may have a grounds to sue the debt collector.
Instances When the Mini Miranda Doesn't Have to Be Stated
If the company from which you initially borrowed the money decides to contact you, whether, by phone or mail, they only need identify themselves as your original creditor to avoid having to inform you of your mini Miranda rights. In order for this exception to apply, the creditor must identify themselves properly as your creditor and not as a third-party agency attempting to collect your debt. If they do not identify themselves accurately and also do not include the mini Miranda statement, they might be in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
Understanding How the Mini Miranda Helps You
When you're under arrest, you must be careful what you say so as not to incriminate yourself. The same thing goes when you're talking to debt collectors-- anything you say in the conversation can be used to help the collector pursue you for the debt. If you're dealing with a debt that's past the statute of limitations for your state, something as simple as an admission that the debt is yours could restart the clock on the statute and give the collector more time to sue you for the debt.