Articles – Illegal Calls To Cell Phones
“The law creditors and collectors hate!”
If you want to watch business folks start to snarl and foam at the mouth, mention the TCPA — Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
Well not all business folks — just the ones that are indignant that they can be sued (for high dollar amounts) when they get caught breaking the law.
TCPA prohibits certain things….
You see, the TCPA says unless a company has legal permission, it CANNOT:
- Text you
- Auto dial you
- Robo dial you
- Call with automated messages
- Call with pre-recorded messages
The TCPA lays out damages for violations of the law….
And if a company violates this law, then it can be sued for:
- $500 per call/text
- Up to $1500 per call if the call/text was willful or reckless instead of simply negligent
We have had cases involving literally hundreds of calls which, when you do the math, add up to very high dollar numbers.
So debt collectors, car finance companies, mortgage companies, etc. hate this law and they are constantly trying to get the government to change it. Maybe they will succeed or maybe they won’t — but for right now it is absolutely clear what the law requires and what it forbids.
Arm yourself with knowledge and then take action!
Feel free to look at the articles and videos below and discover for yourself what your rights and options are when dealing with folks calling/texting your cell phone.
If you would like to chat with us, give us a call at 205-879-2447 or contact us through this website and we’ll be glad to help you think through your unique situation and the best course of action for you to take.
We welcome referrals from lawyers inside or outside of Alabama Many of our cases — and particularly our bigger cases — come from referring lawyers who refer their consumer cases to us. While most people who send us cases are lawyers we have worked with for many years, we wanted to share this information primarily for lawyers we have not worked with so you will understand the process. We want to make any referrals as easy as possible for you.… (Read more)
What is a removal of my case from state court to federal court? This is where a state case is moved (“removed”) to federal court. So the case literally started in state court and now is transferred to federal court. That’s basically what this means. This is the right of a defendant who is sued in state court if one of two things has happened. The first situation is when there’s a federal claim involved. Let’s say you sue an… (Read more)
You have questions — make sure before hiring a lawyer that you get all of your questions answered The primary reason you consider hiring a lawyer is because you have questions about the law or how the legal process works. Especially when you are considering being in court — it is natural that you would have questions. So here are some suggestions as you go through the process of finding and hiring a consumer protection lawyer. Make a written list… (Read more)
Can I sue my credit card company for violating the TCPA by blowing up my cell phone? While they would love for the answer to be “NO” as they don’t like getting sued for blowing up your phone…. The correct answer is “Yes, you can.” Absolutely. This is one of the most common type of TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act) lawsuits that we file in Alabama. So much of whether you in particular can sue comes down to the question… (Read more)
Can debt collectors really violate the TCPA? The TCPA, or Telephone Consumer Protection Act, keeps us protected (for the most part) from unwanted calls or texts. Often consumers wonder if the law applies to debt collectors who claim that a debt is owed. Absolutely. When they robo-dial your cell, or text your cell without your permission, they’re violating the TCPA. In other words, if they’re using a computer to blow up your phone, then they’re breaking the law unless you… (Read more)
Should I keep a signed copy of any letter I send to a debt collector? This is a question that comes up when we’re dealing with debt collectors. Yes, you should keep a signed copy. We want to have proof of what we’ve sent to them. In this article, we’re just talking about whether or not to keep a signed copy, not how to send it to the collector. Let’s look at a few reasons to keep a signed copy.… (Read more)
“I just got a new cell phone number and I’m getting robo calls. Is this illegal and how do I stop these annoying calls?” This is illegal. There is a fairly straightforward way to stop this type of harassment against you and your cell phone. You know, we keep our cells with us most of the day. So to have a company blowing up your cell phone with a robo call (autodialed call or computer call) is very annoying. TCPA… (Read more)
“What is a motion to enforce a settlement agreement?” A motion to enforce a settlement agreement is where we are asking a court to enforce the terms of a settlement — to make the defendant do what the defendant promised when it settled. A case gets settled and sometimes we don’t have the settlement agreement already finalized. Or we do and the company we have sued wants to add terms and conditions that we never agreed to. The most common… (Read more)
How to revoke permission or consent under the TCPA to receive robo dialed calls on your cell phone. You’ve probably heard about the TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act), and how it can prevent debt collection companies or any other type of company from blowing up your phone. This covers automated text messages, automated calls, robo-dialers, and the like. As you’ve looked at this law, you’ve most likely noticed that permission (consent) is a big part of the TCPA. If they… (Read more)
“Can the TCPA help me with calls that are for someone else?” When a collection agency or credit card company or any company is using a robo-dialer to call or text you but they are trying to reach someone else, you may wonder if the TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act) can help you. Yes, it can. Yes, it does cover calls and texts for someone else. It does help with collectors or others who keep calling you can asking for… (Read more)
When your phone is blowing up with unwanted phone calls and texts from collection agencies, you may wonder, “Does the TCPA cover text these collection text messages?” The short answer is yes, the TCPA covers text messages. The TCPA applies the same way that it applies to phone calls. We aren’t talking about manual calls or texts here, however. The TCPA doesn’t cover those calls. We’re talking about robo-dialers, prerecorded messages, and such. In the same way, we’re talking about… (Read more)
This is a little different from our usual posts, however, I believe this story will be beneficial to you as you deal with abusive companies. The Scorpion and the Frog This story has application to debt collectors, credit reporting agencies, car finance companies, mortgage companies, etc. Sometimes we sit and wonder, “Why do these companies do these dumb things where they’ll have to pay a lot of money after we sue them?” Read the story of the scorpion and the… (Read more)
Often times when you’re being called constantly by a debt collector, you wonder, “How do I get this to stop?” You can use the TCPA and the FDCPA to stop collectors from calling you Both of these laws are powerful tools to help you. The FDCPA, or Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, orders debt collectors to treat you fairly, be honest with you, and to take care of things in a legal fashion. You may be thinking, “That’s great with… (Read more)
“Why am I getting these automated calls from DCI for somebody else’s old cell phone bill?” I know it is frustrating to get robo or autodialed calls to your cell phone for someone else — especially the person who used to have your cell phone number. Usually the debt collector blowing up your phone is a company called DCI, but there can be other companies as well. Here’s the normal way it works Say you go to AT&T, Verizon, T-mobile,… (Read more)
“Why do I need to bring you a timeline and give you info for our consultation?” When we have a consultation we need certain information from you including a timeline of what happened when. Sometimes potential clients don’t want to get us documents — they say, “I have a specific question and I just want you to answer that one question. I don’t need to share any other information with you.” We respectfully decline to consider letting these folks be… (Read more)
New TCPA Rules Protect Consumers From Robocalls — Analysis Of Statement Of Chairman Tom Wheeler Well, the collection industry and telemarketing folks are having a complete come apart over the losses they suffered at the FCC when they didn’t get everything they asked for, thankfully. The official order will be out soon and we’ll analyze it then but for now here is the statement by Chairman Tom Wheeler with our analysis in bold and italics. FCC STRENGTHENS CONSUMER PROTECTIONS… (Read more)
“What is loss mitigation?” Loss mitigation means to avoid a foreclosure. Within loss mitigation we have: Loan modification Short sale Deed in lieu of foreclosure Forbearance Principal reduction etc. What to do if you are struggling with making your payments If you are falling behind on your mortgage, it makes a lot of sense to ask your mortgage company to give you loss mitigation. Normally you will fill out a package — a loss mitigation package — and then the… (Read more)
“Why Is the TCPA Called a Bounty Hunter Statute?” The TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act) governs computer or robo dialed calls and text messages to your cell phone. One common complaint by the companies who violate the law and get sued is that the law is unfair — it is a “bounty hunter” statute that awards people money even when they weren’t “harmed” by the illegal calls. This is because the law says for each violation you can get $500… (Read more)
How do I stop Asset Acceptance from computer calling me on my cell phone after I beat them at trial?
“How do I stop Asset Acceptance from computer calling me on my cell phone after I beat them at trial?” We had a question from a website visitor about Asset Acceptance, a debt buyer (debt collector), who sued the consumer and lost. But it is still calling the consumer’s cell phone, spouse’s cell phone, and even the consumer’s child’s cell phone. To show it has no concern for the rights of the consumer, Asset Acceptance is credit reporting the account… (Read more)
Why Are Collectors/Creditors Still Harassing Me After The Debts Were Discharged in Bankruptcy? You made the decision to file bankruptcy and then he received your discharge order which means you are no longer liable for the debts that were discharged in bankruptcy. This is your moment to get a fresh start. But…. Creditors and collection agencies are still harassing you about the discharge debts. Two questions come to mind. First, why am I still being harassed over these debts when… (Read more)
The dirty secret of hiring a great lawyer The dirty secret is it is very difficult knowing for certain that you have found a good lawyer to represent you in whatever legal matter you have. (At the end of this lengthy article I talk about how my family made the decision on hiring a lawyer as this might be helpful to you). I know this sounds like a crazy thing to say, since I’m a lawyer who clients hire to… (Read more)
My partner Stan Herring is going to be doing a training for lawyers in Alabama and outside Alabama on the changes to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) which have occurred recently with new regulations that went into effect in October 2013. There are also changes by judges that are happening on an almost daily basis it seems. You can sign up for this webinar here at the M. Lee Smith website. Here are the highlights: In 2012, the Federal… (Read more)
Robo Dialed Calls To Cell Phones: Cost of $500 or up to $1500 Per Call? So how much money does a creditor or debt collector owe you if they have illegally called your cell phone with a computer dialer or a pre-recorded message in violation of the TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act)? If they made one or more robo dialed calls? $500. or up to $1500. Per call. While we still run into defense lawyers who don’t know the law… (Read more)
TCPA: Follow Up Questions After the 5 Keys So we went through some background information on the TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act) as well as the five keys to protecting yourself with this law. Now here are some questions we have been asked. We’ll add to this as we get more questions. Are debt collectors covered under the TCPA? A lot of times, debt collectors take the position of, “We’re not subject to that law.” I know the kind of… (Read more)
TCPA: Fifth Key — Sue Under The TCPA For Money Damages Our fifth key is to sue under the TCPA — you sue the company that has been blowing up your phone illegally. This will get you money damages and it is a wonderful motivator to get the company (debt collector, credit card company, mortgage company, etc) from violating the law against you in the future. (If you need part one about what calls are covered, part two about permission… (Read more)
TCPA: Fourth Key — Document The Calls To Your Cell Phone We have covered three keys and now we are at the fourth key which is to protect yourself by documenting the calls. You have to do this because you need to be prepared for the company breaking the law to lie to you about the number of calls. (If you need part one about what calls are covered, part two about permission to call, or part three about revoking… (Read more)
TCPA — Third Key: Revoke Permission If You Ever Gave It Continuing with our series on the TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act) as it applies to computer dialed or pre-recorded message calls to your cell phone. You can read the overview of the five keys to stopping illegal calls to your cell phone and now let’s focus in on “What if you gave permission? What do you do now?” I think the best thing is to revoke it — revoke… (Read more)
TCPA — Second Key: Did You Give Permission to Call Your Cell Phone? We want to continue our discussion of the 5 keys to using the TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act) to stop abusive calls coming in to your cell phone. You can find the first key here — only certain calls to your cell phone are covered by the TCPA. Now let’s talk about the second key in any TCPA case… Assuming it’s a computer dialed call, did you… (Read more)
TCPA — First Key: Only Certain Calls to Your Cell Phones Are Covered This is the first of a five part series on using the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) to stop creditors and debt collectors from blowing up your cell phone with computer dialed calls. The very first step is to figure out what type of calls are you receiving? Sometimes we have people who will call us and say, “This debt collector is calling me three times a… (Read more)
Overview of series on the 5 keys to using the TCPA to stop cell phone harassment Welcome to our series of articles on using the TCPA — Telephone Consumer Protection Act — to stop illegal calls to your cell phone. If the calls are coming in and they violate the law then the best way to stop the calls is to sue the company and recover damages of either $500 or $1500. Per call. So the company that is calling… (Read more)
TCPA — Damages for illegal calls to your cell phone What are the possible damages under the TCPA? We can get statutory damages if there’s an illegal call. We’ll talk about what an illegal call is, but for an illegal call that is not intentional, we can get statutory damages. That means we do not have to show that we were actually injured. In other words, we don’t have to show we lost a job or lost money. It’s almost… (Read more)
Background on TCPA law on computer dialed calls to cell phones When I present to lawyers in Alabama and nationally on the TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act) I normally give a bit of background so it makes sense why the law is so strict against computer calls to cell phones. So join me on this brief background journey please. A (fax) blast from the past Those of you who are old enough will remember this. You come in the morning… (Read more)
Example of a FDCPA/TCPA lawsuit against Portfolio Recovery We represented a client who started receiving phone calls to his cell phone from the large debt collector “Portfolio Recovery Associates” out of Virginia. (Portfolio Recovery sues a hundred Alabama consumers a week but it collects against even more Alabama consumers by letter and phone calls. Let’s take a look at when one of these Alabama consumers fought back against allegedly illegal collection activities by Portfolio). When he found out the debt… (Read more)
Examples of Abusive Debt Collection Practices That Violate The FDCPA, FCRA, and TCPA Not all debt collectors are willing to break the law but many are willing to break the laws. We wanted to list a number of examples of the types of abusive debt collection practices we commonly see committed against Alabama consumers. FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act) Violations Calling you an excessive number of times in order to harass you They’re calling your family members Creating a… (Read more)
ID Theft Victims Are Often Victimized Twice By Banks Violating TCPA With Robo Calls You’ve heard the phrase “adding insult to injury” — here is a great example. You find out to your horror that you are the victim of Identity Theft. You call the credit card company (Bank of America, Capital One, Chase, Citi, Discover, etc) and tell them what happened. They ask for your phone number and you give them your cell. Now the bank is blowing up… (Read more)
Is It Worth My Time To Sue An Abusive Debt Collector Under The FDCPA? Normally it is worth your time to sue an abusive collector under the FDCPA. But we have to ask what do we mean by “worth” your time? Worth can mean money, peace of mind, or the satisfaction of doing something good. Let’s look at these. Can The Money Awarded Be Worth Your Time Suing an Abusive Debt Collector Under the FDCPA? From a money standpoint, suing… (Read more)
Can A Collector Leave Collection Call Voicemails On My Cell Phone? Debt collectors primarily use the phone to collect debts. Many of us only have cell phones so debt collectors call our cell phones. Is it legal for debt collectors to leave a voicemail on our cell phones? Sometimes it is but often it is illegal. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibits various types of illegal collection activities. Listen carefully in the voicemail for any threats and also… (Read more)
“I’m Nervous About Giving A Deposition — Is This Normal?” Yes, it is normal to be concerned when your deposition has been scheduled. Let’s first talk about what a deposition is and then we’ll talk about what to do in one. If you are even thinking about one, it means you are in a lawsuit. Or you are about to be in a lawsuit. What is a deposition? A deposition is when you will be questioned by the lawyers on… (Read more)
Overview Of TCPA For Non Consumer Lawyers. We recognize the number of non consumer lawyers who come to this site. 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… (Read more)
Simple Dispute Letter To Send To Debt Collectors We have talked about what to say to debt collectors when on the phone, but what about a “simple” sample letter to debt collectors? There are some very long, and I think very ineffective, letters that are floating around the internet. But used properly, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) do give us some useful tools to help collectors understand that should not abuse… (Read more)
Can I Get Statutory Damages Under The TCPA When I Can’t Prove Actual Damages? Yes! That is the whole point of statutory damages actually. They are for you when you can’t prove actual damages. In other words you can’t prove you lost your job, or lost a mortgage loan, or have emotional distress. The law, in this case the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), says that violations of the law are a serious matter but sometimes you won’t be able… (Read more)
How To Use The TCPA To Stop Auto Finance Companies From Harassing You On Your Cell Phone If you fall behind, even by a few days, often your car loan company (GMAC, Nuvell, Ford Motor Credit, Drive Financial, etc) will call your cell phone without mercy. We have seen as many as ten calls a day. Now, it is true that if you are behind, and if you gave GMAC or Nuvell (or whatever the car finance company is) your… (Read more)
How To Use The Collection Communications Log When Dealing With Debt Collectors Introduction to Debt Collector Communications Log We have often recommended that consumers who are dealing with debt collectors calling should use the “Collection Log” by our friend Pete Barry. This short article is to explain why and how to use the collection log most effectively. One reason to use this (or something similar) is to keep all of the information about collection calls in one place. If you… (Read more)
Illegal Calls To Cell Phones Under The TCPA and FDCPA Can I Sue A Collector For Calling My Cell Phone? For so many of us our cell phones are critically important. We sometimes say as long as we have our keys, wallets, and cell phones – then anything we forget can be replaced. So we always have our cell phones with us. Collectors know this – that’s why they call our cell phones. Is it legal for collectors to call… (Read more)
FAQ on Calls to Cell Phones That Violate the TCPA It is very common for calls from a creditor or debt collector to be auto dialed (computer dialed or robo dialed) or to contain a pre-recorded message (sometimes called “robocalls”). When these types of calls are made to your cell phone, the debt collector often violates the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) which is a powerful law in your favor. “I’ve Heard About Express Consent Under The TCPA, What Does… (Read more)
How To Revoke Consent To Call Your Cell Phone With Auto Dialers Or Pre-Recorded Messages We have discussed elsewhere that often times creditors and collectors illegally call our cell phones with their computer or auto-dialed calls (robo calls) or pre-recorded messages. In other words, not a live human being calling or leaving the message for us. This can violate the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), a federal law designed to stop these annoying computer (non human) calls to our cell… (Read more)
Is A Debt Collector Harassing You Illegally? Find Out What Your Rights Are So You Can Take Action Against Abusive Debt Collectors! We realize that dealing with debt collectors can be intimidating. Not just because abusive collectors are intimidating but also because you may not fully understand your rights and what collectors can, and cannot, do in collecting a debt from you. We have laid out some typical questions that we are asked by Alabama consumers who want to know… (Read more)