Pesky automated unwanted phone calls and text messages come in daily from debt collectors or telemarketers to our mobile phones out of nowhere, trying to catch us off guard, but how can we handle these calls and recognize if they’re in violation of your rights of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and considered a TCPA Violations?
An overview of the TCPA Act
First, we must understand what the telephone consumer protection act (TCPA) is and if a business is in violation of it. This act passed in 1991 and helps protect the consumer against any type of call that solicits you for business or debt related matters.
Jordan has explained what the TCPA act is and how it strongly pertains to calls to mobile phones and sometimes to residences through an auto-dialer, pre-recorded message, or robocalls.
This is done through a software that can be setup for multiple calls in one day. If you’re receiving cell phone harassment or phone harassment frequently without Prior Express Consent, the collector may be in violation.
Having an understanding of our consent is important as a consumer and knowing when necessary to contact a debt collection attorney.
Watch: What is the TCPA?
Prior Express Written Consent vs Revoked Consent
Prior Express Written Consent, this is where you the consumer provides in writing consent to receive calls from an autodialer or robocall. Calls from telemarketers and debt collectors vary with the FCC regulations.
Revoked Consent, if you as the consumer do not want to receive these calls, you have the right to tell them to stop calling and will not need to sent be in writing.
Watch: What is Prior Express Written Consent?
The key word here is CONSENT, if no consent was given from you the consumer, then they should not be contacting you and that is debt harassment.
Know your rights
As a consumer, if you realize the calls coming in were not given in prior written consent or were revoked, the collector may be in violation and you may be entitled to damages. Jordan Shaw, a TCPA attorney explains the types of violations and when to take action with a consumer protection lawyer.
Jordan Shaw, a TCPA attorney explains the types of violations and when to take action with a consumer protection lawyer.
Another type of solicitation may be a violation by a text message. An example of this is Donald Trump’s campaign being sued for sending text messages without consent, which is why it is important to know your rights as a consumer-citizen and recognize TCPA violations.
Watch: How do I know if my rights have been violated?
Length of time to file lawsuit
If a violation is made and a lawsuit needs to be filed, the average time is between four months to two years, all depending on the case. Jordan indicates that settlement before some trails is in the upper ninety percent if legal matters can be resolved beforehand.
Possible change to be made soon in section of TCPA Act
According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), since last June, there has been a large number of petitions related to the TCPA Act. In recent discussions this past week the (FCC) proposed a change, open for remarks to a section in the TCPA Act, regarding consent on calls to consumers from debt collectors after a certain period of being unpaid to businesses and at government levels.
Here are the 10 tips to remember…
If you know your rights and follow at least five out of the 10 tips to handle the call, you’re already ahead of the game. Let’s provide a scenario for when a call comes in for medical bills or creditors from debt collectors.
Tip #1: Print call track sheet
Print the call track sheet provided and keep in a place you will remember.
Tip #2: Grab a pen
Grab a pen to document the call. Remember your rights and recognize any TCPA violations.
Tip #3: Did you consent?
Think to yourself did I provide consent for this type of call or did I send a cease and desist letter Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) to avoid calls like this? If so, this can be FDCPA violations.
Tip #4: What to document with TCPA Violations
Log down the date, time, spoke with, contacted by what collector, what communication method i.e. automated call, phone call, text message, letter.
Tip #5 Jot down
Jot down notes on what was covered on call or if they had information to share with you.
Tip #6: What to ask
At the end of the call go over call notes with the caller and confirm their purpose of the call.
Tips #7 Request a return receipt
Request a return receipt for anything sent out to the debt collector.
Tip #8 File in folder
After communication, keep all bills in a folder and call communication sheet.
Tip #9: When to Consult a TCPA Lawyer?
If telephone harassment persists over debt collection, you may need to hire a consumer protection lawyer, because they can be in violation.
Tip #10 Save all hard copies
Save ANY hard copies i.e. letter, bills, checks, and any mail related any legal action may need to occur.
Download the TCPA Tracker form to keep near your phone and help keep track of any calls that may come in.
Now you’re a pro, you know your rights for debt collection laws and your 10 tips to handle a call to recognize if there are any TCPA violations with the help from Zebersky Payne Shaw Lewenz, LLP consumer protection attorneys.
Now I want to hear from you
Call me at (954) 933-5083 with questions or comments. Phone harassment for debt collection is illegal and you don’t have to put up with it anymore!
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