It is campaign season and the phone calls never seem to stop. Candidates for every office at the local, state, and federal level hound you with phone calls made by robotic machines that deliver monotone messages.
Robocalls might make politicians irritating, but what happens when a computerized autodialing machine contacts you to collect a debt. Do you enjoy the same legal protections spelled out in the landmark consumer protection law called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)?
You are protected against the onslaught of debt collector robocalls. The difference is another federal law does all the protecting.
Overview of Telephone Consumer Protection Act
Responding to consumer outcry about the number of annoying phone calls made by telemarketers, the United State Congress passed the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) in 1991. The TCPA prevents telemarketers from using automated telephone dialing machines to make phone calls promoting products and services.
Telemarketers are forbidden to communicate to consumers by using artificial and prerecorded messages. The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) has added extra protections since 1991, including regulations that spell out how debt collectors can communicate with consumers.
The FCC Closes a Loophole
They say laws are made to be broken, but a more accurate saying is “Laws are made to have loopholes.” It is an appropriate saying for the TCPA, as debt collectors discovered shortly after the passage of the landmark law.
The loophole gave debt collectors a narrow opening to continue making robocalls under certain circumstances, as well as make automated phone calls to the friends and relatives of debtors. A provision in a budget bill gave debt collectors the opening they always wanted.
However, the FCC closed the loophole in 2015 to prevent debt collectors from “harassing” consumers. The use of the term “harassing” prompted many legal scholars to wonder if the closed loophole opened the door to the punitive damages mandated by FDCPA.
New Rules Handcuff Debt Collectors
A series of new regulations created by the FCC in 2015 limits the number of robocalls debt collectors can make. Under the new regulations, debt collectors can make only three phone calls and/or send three text messages per month to consumers for the purpose of collecting debts.
Moreover, contacting friends and/or family members is clearly prohibited. Debt collectors must inform consumers they have the legal right to request debt collectors stop making robocalls, in which case the FCC requires debt collectors to stop making robocalls.
This is the legal provision consumers must use to stop annoying debt collector robocalls.
When to Seek Legal Help
By closing the loophole in the TCPA, the FCC has given consumers the power to seek legal remedies that address continued debt collector robocall harassment. You must file a request to stop debt collector robocalls and if a debt collector continues to make calls or send text messages, you have the right to contact an attorney to stop the harassment. Complete the free evaluation to speak with an attorney.