When a debt collector or creditor tries to collect from you, you have quite a few rights. However, there are a several things that everyone needs to know prior to exercising them. First, under federal law, a statute called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) sets the standards that collectors have to follow. The FDCPA contains provisions that set standards in which collectors cannot call too early in the morning or too late at night. Collectors cannot call so much you feel like you’re being harassed, and they are not allowed to lie or misrepresent facts to you. Collectors are also required to give disclosures to you before they attempt to collect and they cannot talk to anyone about a bill that is a different person’s account. If collectors violate the FDCPA, individuals may have the right to seek assistance in federal court to force collectors to stop the inappropriate behavior.
Sometimes when seeking assistance from the Federal Court, the balance due will be reduced or forgiven. However, this is not a typical result as the collector is not the actual company or person the balance is due to. Federal Court litigation is not a tool to make money off if creditors, it is a way to have peace of mind. Sometimes, a simple letter by itself will stop the wrongful conduct, but unfortunately, this is often not the case.
Here, in the Seventh Circuit, things have changed a lot over the last few years. We want to make sure that we could help you the best way possible, and therefore, it’s essential to bring all of your facts to the table with someone who knows the laws and how they’re being acted on today in the courts so you can get the relief you seek. If you feel that creditors and collectors are harassing, misleading or lying to you, seek out help, before you make a payment. You have rights, and talking to someone might present you with options you did not know existed.
Can A Debt Collector Use An Auto Dialer Or Make Robocalls To My Cellphone And What About Texting?
The simple answer is yes, they can, but the question is, should they? If they do, is it something that you can act upon? The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) statute sets out complicated guidelines that one of the main reasons it was enacted was because people were being charged by the minute for cell phone calls, and Congress believed people should not have to pay for telemarketing calls. However, prior to accusing a telemarketer or creditor of violating the TCPA, there are a lot of requirements that must be considered. The first being if the call was made by an auto-dialer. You can listen for a pause, or sometimes there’s a buzzer or a ding, or you can tell that it’s a computerized voice, and then someone takes over talking because you could tell the change in voice. Technology is pretty good and getting better, so sometimes it’s hard to detect. An attorney who is experienced in TCPA, should have resources to assist with this determination.
The second consideration is if you gave them permission to call you. Although this sounds simple, it is not. A person might not even realize he/she gave them permission. Permission might have been in the small print on a credit agreement, or maybe a simple call in to customer service where you gave them your number to call if your phone is disconnected. Once you have given the permission, they can call you until you take the permission away.
I tell everyone that comes into my office that if they are getting harassed by phone, the first thing you want to do is take back that permission to call you. Tell them they’re no longer allowed to use this phone number, it’s a cellphone, and they can’t call that number, and if they ask for another number, you can say, “I’m not providing one today, you can communicate by mail” or something to that extent. Then you take a pen and paper out, and you write down the date, the time, who you spoke to, and what you said. You’ve now taken away their permission to call you. If they call again after this date, write it down on that paper because that’s your evidence that they’re continuing to contact you without permission. If this continues to a point you are feeling harassed, call an attorney who understands the TCPA and seek out their assistance.
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