If you are facing economic problems due to which you are unable to make payments on your dues and are being harassed by collection agents, then you are in for luck. As per lawyers of Los Angeles based law firm Recovery Law Group, under certain circumstances, such collectors can be held liable for harassing people and may have to pay the consumer for calling them up on cell phone. According to Bankruptcy Attorney Los Angeles, there are strict laws in place which prohibit the use of automated dialling machines by debt collectors. However, it is important that you recognize the signs of automated dialling before approaching a bankruptcy lawyer near me with the case. Chances are that the collection agency is using an auto-dialler if you have observed:
- Few moments of silence when you pick the call,
- Pre-recorded messages play when you pick the call.
Despite this being a punishable offense, debt collectors get around the rule because many times the creditor inadvertently provides them with the permission to call their cell phone. In case you have provided your cell phone number as the contact number in the original contract, then nobody else can be held liable. This piece of information gives the collectors permission and thereby protects them or the debt buyer from any fine.
In case, you did not provide your cell number to the debt collector or the creditor in the documents and they obtained it from any other source, then, they can be held liable for the violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) every the time they call your cell phone using the auto-dialler. The TCPA violations can result in a $500 fine per violation and even $1500 per call, if the violation is wilfully done.
Options available to customers who are being harassed by auto-dialled phone calls
In case the customer had provided their cell phone to the debt collector, but not the original creditor; but now no longer wish to receive any more collection calls on their cell phone can have a way out. They need to send a letter through certified mail to the debt collector, specifically stating “I revoke any permission that I may have ever given you or anyone else to call me on my cell phone about this account. My cell phone number is _____. Never contact call me at this number again.”
If you want to take legal action against debt collectors for automated calls, you need to prove that these records are a violation of the TCPA. The violation of TCPA occurs as soon as your phone is dialled by the caller. It is therefore important that you maintain a record of any call received, including hang-ups. You can consult a bankruptcy lawyer to help you attain phone logs for tracking TCPA violations.
Apart from calls, any messages received by the consumer regarding debt collection are also punishable violations under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) apart from State consumer laws. If you want the debt collectors answered for the harassment you suffer due to their incessant calls and messages, ensure that you document every call and message received.