DEFINITION of ‘Mini-Miranda Rights’
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’
The Mini-Miranda is not an official term, but is a slang term or colloquialism. It prevents a debt collector from using false pretences 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.
The 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.
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.