Content of the material
- What is a debt collection letter?
- Instances When the Mini Miranda Doesnt Have to Be Stated
- Coronavirus Scams
- General Information About Debt Collection
- Locating a debtor
- Texas and Federal Law
- Incorporating Federal Law Into California’s Law
- Mini-Miranda Requirement Under the FDCPA
- Avoid outstanding payments with clear and concise debt collection letters
- About the FTC
- If you do not recognize the debt
- Understanding Mini-Miranda Rights
- Get debt relief now
- We've helped 205 clients find attorneys today.
- How It Works
What is a debt collection letter?
A debt collection letter is a formal notice that businesses—including law firms— give to a client who hasn’t paid their bill by the agreed-upon date. This type of letter informs the recipient of their outstanding debt, requests that they pay by a certain date, and lets them know what will happen should they fail to pay.
Typically, a lawyer debt collection letter may be used to:
- Inform a client that their payment has surpassed the due date and is now overdue.
- Start the process of setting up a repayment program with a client who cannot pay in full.
- In certain situations, initiate legal proceedings when a client refuses to pay.
Instances When the Mini Miranda Doesnt Have to Be Stated
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act only requires third-party debt collectors to read you your mini Miranda rights. Your creditors have no such obligation under this law. If the company from which you initially borrowed money decides to contact you—whether by phone or by mail—they only need to identify themselves as your original creditor to avoid having to inform you of your mini Miranda rights.
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 fail to include the mini Miranda statement, they might be in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
Coronavirus Scams Spot the latest COVID scams, get compliance guidance, and stay up to date on FTC actions during the pandemic.
General Information About Debt Collection
Several agencies and organizations have compiled pages with general information about debt collection and your rights when dealing with debt collectors. Please see the following links for more information: Toolkit: My Debt Collection Rights in Texas This toolkit from Texas Appleseed has information on debt collection and related scams. Debt Collection & Payday Loans Debt Collection information from the Texas Office of the Attorney General The Texas Attorney General has compiled this page about your rights when dealing with debt collectors and common debt collection scams. FAQ – Problems with Creditors and Debt Collectors Richard Alderman, a popular consumer rights advocate and Texas attorney, has compiled this list of frequently asked questions regarding debt and debt collection.
Locating a debtor
Creditors and debt collection agencies are permitted to try to locate a debtor by contacting persons other than the debtor or persons residing in the debtor’s household, if the creditor or debt collection agency reasonably believes that it no longer has current information on the debtor’s location. However, it may not inform anyone it calls about your debt.
Texas and Federal Law
There are sections of both federal law and Texas law that govern debt collection. The other pages of this guide will talk about these laws in more detail, including what rights and protections they give to people who owe money. Chapter 41, Subchapter V in Title 15 of the U.S. Code The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) protects debtors from harassment, threats, and unfair means of debt collection by debt collectors. This law only applies to third party debt collectors. Texas Finance Code, Chapter 392 The Texas debt collection law can be found in Chapter 392 of the Texas Finance Code. Unlike the federal FDCPA, it also applies to original creditors.
Incorporating Federal Law Into California’s Law
The Rosenthal Act also requires that original creditors comply with most parts of the federal FDCPA. (Cal. Civ. Code § 1788.17). So, in California, original creditors have to comply with both the Rosenthal Act and the FDCPA. If, for instance, a credit card company contacts you about an overdue bill, it must follow both the FDCPA and the Rosenthal Act.
The Rosenthal Act contains two significant exceptions for when a creditor doesn’t have to comply with the FDCPA: creditors don’t have to provide consumers with a “mini-Miranda” notice, and they don’t have to send consumers a debt validation notice.
Mini-Miranda Requirement Under the FDCPA
The federal FDCPA mandates that the collector disclose in the initial communication that he or she is attempting to collect a debt and that any information obtained will be used for that purpose. These disclosures often called the “mini-Miranda.”The disclosures must also be included in subsequent communications. (15 U.S.C. § 1692e(11)).
Under a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rule, effective in late 2021, debt collectors must make the mini-Miranda disclosures in the same language or languages used for the rest of the communication in which the disclosures are conveyed. Collectors don’t, however, have to identify which consumers can’t communicate in English, nor provide translations in multiple languages. (12 C.F.R. § 1006.18(e)(4)).
Avoid outstanding payments with clear and concise debt collection letters
Unfortunately, chasing outstanding payments from clients is sometimes an inevitable part of running a law firm. While all non-paying clients owe you for the agreed-upon and completed legal services you provided, there are sometimes reasons why clients don’t or can’t pay their bills.
The first step to avoiding unpaid client bills is to set up a solid collections process. That way, you can make it easy for clients to pay in the ways that best suit them. If you still don’t receive payment, you may want to consider creating a professional, clear, and straightforward lawyer debt collection letter.
Sending a debt collection letter to a client can resolve potential miscommunications and make it clear what balance is owed. It can also help open communication if a client requires a payment plan. However, before creating or sending any debt collection letters, lawyers need to check, know, and abide by the rules for debt collection in their area.
Once you know the rules, you can research and create your own debt collection letter template. Then, when you’re in a situation where a client refuses to pay, you’ll be prepared to move forward. With a debt collection letter, you can spend less time on the collections process, while collecting more for the legal work you’ve already done.
Note: The information in this article applies only to US practices. This post is provided for informational purposes only. It does not constitute legal, business, or accounting advice.
We published this blog post in June 2021. Last updated: .
Categorized in: Accounting
About the FTC
Our mission is protecting consumers and competition by preventing anticompetitive, deceptive, and unfair business practices through law enforcement, advocacy, and education without unduly burdening legitimate business activity.
If you do not recognize the debt
- Demand proof of the debt from the debt collector or a copy of the judgment against you.
- Do not give out personal information such as your social security number or financial account numbers to a caller claiming to collect a debt.
- Report scams to:
Mail Scams: Telephone/Fax Scams: Internet/Email Scams: U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Postal Crime Hotline www.postalinspectors.uspis.gov (877) 876-2455 Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Protection Bureau www.ftc.gov (877) 382-4357 Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internet Crime Complaint Center www.ic3.gov -or- www.econsumer.gov (for foreign companies/websites)
If your personal information has been stolen—get help! Victims of Identity Theft can find more information at a website of the Federal Trade Commission.
Understanding Mini-Miranda Rights
Mini-Miranda 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 their true identity and the purpose of the call so as to get through to the indebted person, the Mini-Miranda specifically prohibits the use of such tactics.
Mini-Miranda is not an official term, but rather a colloquialism. It 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 them in a court of law, and that the suspect has the right to an attorney.
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. This was specified in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) of 1977, also known as Regulation F, a federal law prohibiting debt collectors from using harassment, threats, deceit, or intimidation to collect debts.1 More recently, however, the federal government’s Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, issued a further clarification of the FDCPA rules in November of 2020, which will become effective on November 21, 2021.
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