Disclaimer: This blog is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice and does not create or intend to create an attorney-client relationship. This blog post should never be used to replace the advice of your personal attorney.
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act, or “TCPA,” was enacted by the United States. Congress in 1991 to govern telemarketing. The TCPA later was expanded to also apply to text messages.
Telemarketers looking to sell or advertise products and services must abide by the TCPA.
The TCPA also applies to calls from debt collectors and collection agencies.
Debt Collection Today
Marketing and advertising calls and text messages to cell phones generally are prohibited unless the caller has what is called “Prior Express Written Consent” (“PEWC”). Debt collectors usually have PEWC in connection with the transaction that created the debt for which payment is being sought. Debt collectors have PEWC if (1) the call recipient provided his or her cell number to the creditor and (2) the number was provided during the transaction that resulted in the debt owed
Calling residential lines is a different case. Debt collection agencies or debtors don’t require prior consent. Such calls can include autodialed calls or a prerecorded message.
Regardless of how consent was provided by the call recipient, that consent generally can be revoked. The call recipient is able to halt the collection calls by withdrawing (revoking) consent.
Generally, revocation of consent may be accomplished either orally or in writing by any reasonable method. However, revocation of consent is a very involved and evolving area. There are numerous court decisions from various jurisdictions on this topic, and the decisions often are inconsistent in important ways. Consent revocation sometimes can be oral. However, when the calling business and the consumer entered into a contractual provision concerning consent to be called, that consent can be irrevocable, according to one federal circuit court.
Fines for TCPA Violations
If the calls to your phone number don’t stop, the collector can face damages of $500.00 for each call made by mistake and $1500 for each call if it’s willful. These are fines for violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
Furthermore, the penalties accumulate when a debt collector calls multiple times. Companies that violate the TCPA could owe recipients thousands of dollars. When the case becomes class action, the incurred costs of the TCPA violations can add up. Such laws deter debt collectors from making these illegal and unwanted calls. Multiple law firms work on such cases exclusively.