Can A Collector Leave A Voicemail On My Cell Phone?

Can A Collector Leave Collection Call Voicemails On My Cell Phone?

Debt collectors primarily use the phone to collect debts.

Many of us only have cell phones so debt collectors call our cell phones.

Is it legal for debt collectors to leave a voicemail on our cell phones?

Sometimes it is but often it is illegal.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibits various types of illegal collection activities.  

Listen carefully in the voicemail for any threats and also to see if the collector leaves the appropriate warning — called the “mini miranda” by some.

This is where the collector informs you that the call is from a collector and is for collection purposes.

The more common violation is where the collector uses a computer dialer to call your cell phone without permission.

This violates the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and can result in damages of $500 or $1500.  Per call.

Yes the collectors hate this law because they think they should be able to violate the law and face minimal damages.

But we have had clients with well over a hundred calls — those damages add up quickly as you might imagine.

The key is to have never given permission to the collector or the original creditor to call your cell phone.

If you think you may have, the safest thing is to send a letter revoking permission to call you on your cell phone.

Not only can the auto dialed calls be illegal but if a pre-recorded or computer generated message is left on your cell phone, this can violate the TCPA in the same way entitling you to $500 or $1500 in statutory damages.

Be very careful of allowing a collector (or a creditor) trying to dominate your life by attacking your cell phone.

Just because you have your phone with you does not mean you have to answer every call — although we suggest talking to the collectors whenever you can.

Regardless, if the collector is leaving illegal voicemails, find out your specific rights and then take action.

Contact Us.

If you live in Alabama and you have any questions, give us a call at 1-205-879-2447.

Or fill out a contact form and we will get in touch with you as soon as we can.

I look forward to chatting with you!

Have a great day.

-John G. Watts


  1. JoAnn says:

    I recently applied for a refinance with my mortgage company. I gave the mortgage officer permission to contact me about the refinance application and status. My mortgage company called my cell, only once but they did call it, about my current mortgage payment, NOT the refinance. Is that one call illegal?
    And thanks so much for helping me see the light at the end of my tunnel concerning being sued by a debt collector, Portfolio Recovery. You were a real blessing John.

    • JohnGWatts says:


      Thanks for your comment…… and you are welcome on Portfolio Recovery….

      That’s an interesting question on the cell phone. Are the calls automated or pre-recorded?

      Let’s do this — I’ll have Carolyn call you to set up a meeting or call with me and we’ll go over this.


      John Watts

  2. Sharon says:

    Question. A collection agency claims I owe them a 13 year old debt. I’m not worried about the debt but I am unhappy with the collection agents treatment of me.

    So. What if I gave them a cell phone number I had from 13 years ago. I have a completely different number now, are they allowed to put this number I never gave them permission to have in auto-dial?

    • John Watts says:

      No — the number must have been given to the collector (or creditor) when you first took out the loan. So if you now have a new number, they don’t have permission to auto dial your cell. We have sued a number of collection agencies for this exact type of illegal conduct.

      Usually they will find your new number through your credit report or by skip tracing.

      Document the number of calls coming in — what phone number, etc. Easiest way is to take screen shots of the calls.

      If you live in Alabama give us a call at 205-879-2447 or fill out a contact form. If you are in another state check out to find a lawyer in your area.


      John Watts
      Birmingham, Alabama

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