Overview Of TCPA For Non Consumer Lawyers
Overview Of TCPA For Non Consumer Lawyers.
Because of this, we wanted to give a quick overview of the law regarding what are often illegal calls to cell phones that are regulated by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).
Unlike the FDCPA, the TCPA applies both to original creditors and debt collectors. While it does (rarely) regulate calls to home phones, we want to focus in on calls to cell phones.
If your client never gave permission to the original creditor (or the collection agency) to call his or her cell phone, and if the calls are being made by an auto dialer (computer dialer) or if they are made up of prerecorded messages, then the TCPA has likely been violated.
An example of these types of calls would be where you pick up the phone or your voice mail picks up the phone and there is a prerecorded message such as “please hold for the next available representative” or “if you are not [then a recorded or computer says “John Watts”] then hang up immediately.”
The beautiful thing about the TCPA is that it has enormous potential damages.
The damages are $500.00 or $1,500.00 per call. We have several cases against auto finance companies where we have between 200 and 400 calls.
If your client gave permission to the original creditor or to the collector to call the cell phone, then the safest thing to do is to have them send a letter (certified mail) revoking permission.
Often the companies will not honor the letter unless the client gives an alternative number.
It’s the way that the auto dialer system is programmed.
It must have a phone number and the representatives are not allowed to delete one without replacing it with a new phone number.
Of course, your client has no obligation to give a telephone number, so what we often see is these companies will continue to attack your client’s cell phone. This violates the law.
While the law is that oral revocation is sufficient, there are some judges who say the revocation has to be in writing.
We suggest having your clients revoke any permission in writing along the lines of a dispute letter to a debt collector.
To repeat it:
“I dispute owing any debt to you. If you think I do, please send me proof in writing. Don’t call my cell phone number of (xxx)xxx-xxxx. If you think I ever gave permission to call it, I revoke that permission.”
Have your clients document the calls.
Save the voicemails.
If the calls are automated “Please hold for the next available representative” then your clients can note each missed call.
The TCPA is a powerful weapon that abusive companies hate.
I mean, they really really despise it…
Because it takes away their ability to, in effect, tazer your clients multiple times a day.
“Put them on the dialer” — they know it drives people crazy to have their cell phone blown up with calls.
We have a lot of information here about the TCPA and calls to cell phones that we hope you find useful.
If you have any questions, give us a call at 1-205-879-2447.
I look forward to chatting with you.
Have a great day!