FCC logo Robocalls are covered under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) which says it is illegal for debt collectors to robocall your cell phone unless you have given them consent. You must revoke consent in writing if you want them to stop calling.

 

The TCPA is just one of the laws that protect your consumer rights. There are also laws to protect you from unfair lending practices, unfair debt collection practices, and unfair credit reporting practices.

 

Generally there are 3 steps to protect your consumer financial rights:

  1. Hold entities accountable to the law.
  2. Provide written notices.
  3. Document violations.

 

 

In a nutshell, it is illegal under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) for a debt collector to call your cellphone with an autodialer (make a “robocall”) without your consent.

If you withdraw your consent to call your cellphone and they continue to call then it is a violation of the TCPA.

You can continue to answer the calls after you have revoked your consent or not. That is your choice. Keep track of the calls and write down the date and time of each call. If possible record some of the calls. Say the following to the debt collector, “I am recording this phone call. If you continue talking, that means you consent to being recorded.”

Listing the the hundreds of time each month you are called by the same company in a lawsuit is great but imagine the impact if you are able to play one of the calls back in court.

Each call is worth $500 in damages, $1,500 if willful. Those calls can add up and can be resolved in your own private right of action or in a class action lawsuit.

Claimants usually receive less than the full $500 or $1,500 per violation in a class action.

Here are some examples of class action lawsuits.

Cruise Line to Pay up to $76 Million to settle TCPA Violations

Citizens Bank to Pay Over $45 Million to Settle TCPA Suit

Capital One Agrees to $75 Million TCPA Settlement

Judge Approves $32 Million Bank of America TCPA Class Action Settlement

 
FAQs
How did they get my cell number?
You may have given it to them in the application for credit, or maybe they retained your number if you called them to discuss a payment.
 
How to I revoke consent?

You could tell them on the phone that you don’t give them consent to call you any more but that is hard to prove if they keep calling. Notify them in writing and keep a copy of the letter and track the mailing. 

It is best to send them a letter via Certified Mail Return Receipt Requested (CRR) saying that you revoke consent to call your cellphone – include your phone number so there is no mistake about the number they are not to send robocalls to.
 
If the calls stop then that is great. (Note: likely the debt collector will contact you via mail. It is wise to deal with the question of the debt and why they are trying to reach you in the first place. Don’t ignore the underlying problem. 
 
In the meantime if they keep calling you, keep a record of the individual robocalls. This way you have the evidence if you decide to retain a consumer financial rights lawyer to sue the debt collector for TCPA violations. If the phone call is abusive or harassing then it is a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).
 

What is considered harassment by a creditor?

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) says debt collectors can’t harass, oppress, or abuse you or anyone else they contact. Repetitious phone calls intended to annoy, abuse, or harass you or any person answering the phone.

SUMMARY

The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) help protect your rights to not get harassing phone calls by debt collectors.
 
Under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, it is illegal for debt collectors to do the following:
  1. Contact your employer or neighbors about your debt (they may only contact them to locate you, but may not mention the debt)
  2. Call you late at night or at unreasonable hours. A debt collector may not contact you at inconvenient times such as before 8 in the morning or after 9 at night unless you agree to it.
  3. Call you at work. Tell collectors not contact you at work.
  4. Call you repeatedly, ie. robocalls