Q:

What is a mini-Miranda law?

A:

The mini-Miranda law refers to Section 807, Part 11 of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act as amended in September of 1996, requiring debt collectors to provide a certain statement in their initial contact with a debtor. It requires the collectors to identify themselves as attempting to collect a debt and inform the debtor that they use any information they obtain for that purpose.

The law requires debt collectors to make this initial statement on both phone and written communications. After they make the full statement once, they are required to let the individual know they are a debt collector.

While the act does not officially call this statement the mini-Miranda, the warning is similar in nature to the Miranda rights required for use by law enforcement informing a suspect of his right to remain silent, the right to an attorney and the right to a court-appointed attorney if he is unable to afford one otherwise.

In adopting this law, Congress recognized the stress unfair collection practices cause consumers. In the background for adopting the law, it says that such unfair practices lead to unnecessary bankruptcy, marital instability, the loss of jobs and invasion of the consumer's privacy. The intent of the act is to prevent unfair practices while allowing collectors to follow standardized, fair rules, including the use of the mini-Miranda.

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