Enacted by the United States Congress in 1997, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) restored some balance in the relationship between consumers and debt collectors. Until the passage of the FDCPA, third party debt collectors had pretty much free reign over borrowers.
From making nonstop phone calls to threatening physical harm, third party debt collectors had historically tried to undermine the wills of consumer debtors. However, the FDCPA makes it illegal for debt collectors to abuse and/or threaten consumers, as well as implement deceptive debt collection tactics such as lying about their identities.
The FDCPA also addresses communications sent by debt collectors to consumers that are located at “inconvenient places.”
The Federal Trade Commission and the Era of Digital Technology
Responsible for putting teeth into the FDCPA, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) constantly modifies the FDCPA to account for rapid changes in communication technologies. In 1977, cell phones were nothing more than fantasy devices popularized in movies and television shows.
However, beginning in the early 1990s, the communication technology landscape began to shift dramatically, as a growing number of consumers owned car phones, which eventually transformed into mobile cellular phones.
Debt collectors stayed on top of the changing communication technologies by contacting consumers via cell phones. The question at the end of the second decade of the new millennium is how the FTC has adapted the FDCPA for cell phone communication.
Cell Phones and Inconvenient Places
The FTC updated the FDCPA to include language that prohibits debt collectors from communicating with consumer debtors at unusual times and places. Debt collectors must also refrain from contacting consumers at times debt collectors know are inconvenient.
What started as a narrow definition of” inconvenient” has broadened considerably after several court rulings. Because of the mobile capability of cell phones, a debt collector cannot know where you are located, which means the debt collector risks calling you at an inconvenient place and/or time.
When a debt collector calls you on your cell phone, you might be at work, at a funeral, or at an important business meeting. In all three cases, courts have ruled any communication that a debt collector makes at those times and places is considered to be “inconvenient.”
Contact an Attorney for Clarification
Remember that by calling you on your cell phone, a debt collector runs the risk of violating the “inconvenient” clause written into the FDCPA. The fluid nature of the ‘inconvenient” clause means you should consult with a licensed attorney who practices consumer protection law.
If a debt collector continues to call you on your cell phone after you request no further contact, you have the right to seek damages by filing a lawsuit.
A consumer law protection attorney can help you win actual damages for the pain and suffering caused by the harassment from a debt collector that contacted you through your cell phone.
The FDCPA does not place a limit on the amount of actual damages victims of FDCPA violations can seek in court. Complete the free evaluation form to speak with an attorney today.