"RoboCalls" - Legal Protection Under the TCPA

Debt collectors often illegally and improperly use automated phone dialing systems to call your cell phone or home phone ("RoboCalls").  These phone calls can be in violation of both Federal and State law.  A little-known federal law called the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) restricts companies from using an auto-dialer to place pre-recorded messages to a person's cell phone. Not surprisingly, many debt collection companies either knowingly, or unknowingly violate the TCPA. If you've received a pre-recorded message on your cell phone from a debt collector, or collection calls on your cell phone we would be very interested in speaking with your further. 

If you have had a debt collector repeatedly call your cell phone please call Lavelle Law Group immediately to discuss your legal options which, if the calls were made in violation of law, can often include removal of part or all of the underlying debt and damages.

In late 2013 the Federal Government strengthened the consumer protection laws as they relate to Robocalls which may provide additional protections.  The following is a brief summary:

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) places limits on unsolicited prerecorded 
telemarketing calls to landline home telephones, and all auto-dialed or prerecorded calls or text messages to wireless numbers, emergency numbers, and patient rooms at health care facilities. These calls are known as “robocalls.” The FCC recently took steps to give consumers additional control over the robocalls they receive with new rules that went into effect in October 2013. This following describes in part how the FCC’s rules have changed, rules that will continue unchanged that also provide consumer protections, and how you can best avoid unwanted telephone calls. 
The New Rules for Robocalls 
The FCC’s new rules impose additional requirements for how a business must obtain your consent before it may make a prerecorded telemarketing call to your residential phone number or make an auto-dialed or prerecorded telemarketing call or text to your wireless number. The new rules require that telemarketers first obtain your written consent to receive such calls or messages, on paper or through electronic means, including website forms, a telephone key press, or a recording of your oral consent. 
Another change is that telemarketers will no longer be able to make telemarketing robocalls to your landline home telephone based solely on an “established business relationship” with you. You may establish such a relationship when you purchase something from a business or contact the business to ask questions. Businesses must now have your prior express written consent before making telemarketing robocalls to you, even if they have an established business relationship with you. (Note: Telemarketers have never been permitted to make robocalls to your wireless phone based solely on an “established business relationship” with you). 
The new rules also require telemarketers to allow you to opt out of receiving additional telemarketing robocalls immediately during a prerecorded telemarketing call through an automated menu. The opt-out mechanism must be announced at the outset of the message and must be available throughout the duration of the call. This new requirement means that you will not have to hang up and make a separate call in order to stop further telemarketing robocalls. 
Continuing Robocall Consumer Protections 
There is no change to the prior consent requirement for robocalls and texts that are not telemarketing. These include messages regarding school closings or messages containing flight information, for example. You do not have to give your consent for these calls to your landline home phone. However, your oral or written consent is still required for these types of auto-dialed or prerecorded calls or texts made to your wireless number. 

How can I tell if it is a Robcall???

Oftentimes you will recognize the telephone # - they've probably called  dozens of times before.
There may be a computerized voice.  Also, when you answer there is often a few second gap and sometimes strange clicking before they say anything.  Often they will mispronounce your name or sound like they aren't sure why they called.

Should I answer my cell phone when I think it is a Robo call???

The short answer is YES!!!  You may want to ignore every phone call from the debt collector.  You may get calls at times that you cannot answer, such as during work or family time.  Or, there may be times that you are just so frustrated with the many times the debt collector is contacting you.  It may be embarrassing or awkward to take these calls.  Many people block the debt collector’s phone number.

However, if possible you should try to answer every single phone call for the following reasons.

-If you answer the phone call, then you can document and keep an accurate log of every single time they have called, which will assist if a lawsuit for harassment if they have called an unreasonable amount of times is filed.

-If you don’t answer the call, then many phone service providers don’t keep a record without a connection being made, which prevents  obtaining an accurate record of how many times they have contacted you.

-There are many ways that a debt collector can violate the law during phone calls, such as yelling at you, cursing at you, using language intended to shame or embarrass you for being in debt, or by not properly informing you of who they are and why they are calling. If you don’t answer the phone, then they have violated the law in other ways aside from the call.

- If you are someone that is being contacted by a debt collector trying to gather contact information for someone else that they claim owes the debt and you don’t answer the phone, then they are allowed to call you over and over and over.  They are allowed to contact you (as a third party) only one time to gather contact information, but this one time permissible contact is only exhausted if you answer the phone.

Therefore although it can be inconvenient, you should always answer the phone in order to maximize the chances that they will violate the law and it will allow us to keep an accurate record of their repeated contacts in order to prove they are harassing you.

Give us a call and we will be happy to discuss your options at no charge.

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