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TELEPHONE HARASSMENT

If you have been the victim of telephone harassment by creditors, debt collectors or telemarketers, below are some rights you should be aware of.

THE TELEPHONE CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT (“TCPA”)

Your cell phone goes everywhere you do, and you have a right to privacy regarding who calls you on your cell phone. Yet too often, that privacy is invaded by companies calling to harass consumers to collect debts, whether or not they owe them, or to sell products and services that consumers don’t want.

In 1991, the federal government enacted the TCPA to protect US consumers against “robocalls” by debt collectors and telemarketers. The U.S. Senator that sponsored the legislation, Ernest “Fritz” Hollings, described these calls as “the scourge of modern civilization. They wake us up in the morning; they interrupt our dinner at night; they force the sick and elderly out of bed; they hound us until we want to rip the telephone out of the wall.” 137 Cong. Rec. 30,821 (1991).

The TCPA makes it unlawful for any person to make any call using an automatic telephone dialing system (“autodialer” or “robodialer”) to a cellular telephone without the prior express consent of the called party. The TCPA provides for a minimum of $500 in damages per violation, up to $1,500 per violation (per call).

In sum, if you have ever asked a debt collector, creditor (including a mortgage servicer, credit card company, student loan company or auto lender) or telemarketer to stop calling you on your cell phone, and they continued to call, you may be entitled to $1,500 for each of those calls. To learn more about your rights under the TCPA, call Maney | Gordon.

THE FAIR DEBT COLLECTION PRACTICES ACT (“FDCPA”)

The U.S. government enacted the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) to eliminate abusive and deceptive practices in the collection of consumer debts. Under the FDCPA, some of the things debt collectors cannot do include:

  • Threaten you with violence
  • Use obscene or profane language
  • Call you repeatedly to annoy you
  • Claim you owe more money than you do
  • Send you a document designed to look like it comes from a court or government agency when it doesn’t
  • Collect fees or interests not authorized by law or contract
  • Pretend to be law enforcement officers or court officials
  • Use a false name
  • Illegally take your property
  • Say you’ll be arrested
  • Call you after 9pm or before 8am

Top 10 Debt Collection Rights For Consumers

To learn more about your rights under the FDCPA, call Maney | Gordon for a free consultation

STATE CONSUMER PROTECTION STATUTES

Certain states have enacted statutes similar to the FDCPA, which expand the FDCPA’s protections to cover the conduct of certain entities that are not governed by the FDCPA. Importantly, in most cases the FDCPA only applies to third party debt collectors, and does not cover the collection conduct of creditors, including auto lenders, mortgage servicers, student loan companies, credit card companies, etc.

For instance, the Florida legislature enacted the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (“FCCPA”), which also applies to the consumer debt collection conduct of the following types of entities, which are not subject to the FDCPA:

  • Credit Card Companies
  • Auto Finance Companies
  • Check Cashing and Cash Advance Companies
  • Cell Phone Companies
  • Mortgage Companies
  • Cable Companies
  • Home Alarm Companies
  • Landlords/Apartment Management Companies
  • Student Loan Companies

Other states have enacted similar statutes, including the Connecticut Creditors’ Collection Protection Act (“CCPA”), the Kansas Consumer Protection Act (“KCPA”). To find out if your state laws provide for similar protections for consumers, contact us for a free consultation.