Are you getting constant debt calls to your cell phone?
Image Source: Flickr User Garry Knight
Debt collections are bad enough but when you’re contacted by a robocall computer that won’t stop calling, it’s even worse. But what you may not know is that, in some cases, robocalls for debt collections may be illegal and can result in a fine to the debt agency. Today we look at how to fight back against harassing automated calls over debt.
Are automated calls to your cell phone illegal?
Unless you gave a debt collector or creditor specific permission to call your cell phone, these calls are illegal. Plus, you can revoke permission – even if you did give it – by notifying the company calling you that they may not call your cell phone again. Even if your original contract with the creditor included a clause that allowed them to robocall you, if you have changed your phone number, the permission should not transfer to a new number.
To put an end to this, notify the firm in writing. You may have to sit through a robocall to get to a live human to get the company name and mailing address. You have a right to this information even though they will try and make the phone call about the debt. Just push back and get the address and then tell the person they do not have permission to call your cell and if they think they do, tell them you are revoking permission, and will follow up in writing.
Be sure to send the notice in writing also via certified mail. If the calls continue, you may be entitled to damages of $500 to $1500 a call. You’ll have to get an attorney to take the case if they persist, but some lawyers specialize in fighting debt harassment and may take your case on a contingency basis (no money up front). Also, be sure to put your cell number on the do not call registry and don’t put your cell phone number on any credit applications from here on out.
Are automated calls to your home phone illegal?
Robocalls to your landline are not illegal if you have an established business relationship with the caller. So your credit card company can robocall your home because you have a relationship with them. A random telemarking firm should not be robocalling your home. And if your number is on the do not call registry, neither robocalls nor live "human" calls from telemarketers or solicitors should be made to your home phone. You may have to wait for a person to come on the line to tell them not to call again, but it can be worth the one-time hassle.
How to fight violations of the TCPA
All of these prohibitions on calling home and cell numbers fall under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). You should register all of your phone numbers on the do not call registry. There is an email verification you should complete to verify the numbers and ensure your numbers are on the registry. Alternately, you can call 888-382-1222 to register your phone numbers.
Signing up for the registry won’t stop all annoying calls. Here’s a look at those who can still call you:
- Political groups, charities and survey organizations
- Businesses you’ve transacted with during the last 18 months
- Banks, schools and healthcare organization robocalls
Once your number has been on the registry for more than 30 days, if you receive unlawful calls, you can file a complaint with donotcall.gov online or by calling 888-382-1222. If phone calls from telemarketers, solicitors or debt collectors become harassing, also consider reporting the firm to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The CFPB routinely sues firms that harass consumers, and they may already have a file on the company that’s bothering you.
If debt collectors are calling you day and night and you don’t know what to do because you can’t pay your bills, call us today. Contact the law offices of John T. Orcutt at +1-919-646-2654 for a free North Carolina bankruptcy consultation at one of our offices in Raleigh, Durham, Fayetteville, Wilson, Greensboro, Garner or Wilmington. Find out how bankruptcy debt relief can give you the peace of mind and financial fresh start you deserve.