Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) protects consumers from receiving nuisance calls from creditors and marketers on home phones and cell phones. Signed into law by President George H.W. Bush in 1991, TCPA restricts robo-calls made to all cell phones, whether they are for business or personal use.
Creditors and Marketers Violate the TCPA:
- When they use automatic dialing systems, a computer program that auto-dials hundreds of programmed numbers. Receiving four or more calls in a day from a specific creditor typically means an auto-dialer is in use.
- When they use artificially generated communications or pre-recorded voice messages that direct the recipient to hold for an available operator.
- When they send unsolicited SMS text messages that cause the recipient to incur phone charges.
- When they fax junk-faxes that interrupt the receipt of business faxes, tie up phone lines, and waste paper.
- When they do not maintain and support a required DO NOT CALL list. Consumers have the right to ask to be placed on it and the requests are honored for five years.
If you have filed for bankruptcy and you are receiving unwanted calls from creditors or other marketers on either your cell or home phone:
- Providing your cell phone number on a credit application is considered giving the creditor permission to contact you. Send a letter revoking any consent and then ask to be placed on their DO NOT CALL list. Keep a copy of the letter.
- If you rescind permission and the creditors continue to call, save all voice messages as evidence they did not comply with the request.
- Keep track of any unwanted calls. Note the time they are received, the duration, and any information the caller gives you. Include anything about the call or recorded message such as dead air segments, delays or clicks that occur before an agent comes on the line.
- Seek legal help to deal with robo-calls and continued unwanted calls from creditors. Call the team at Sawin & Shea at 317-759-1483 or send an email for a free consultation.
What Is the Punishment for Violating the TCPA?
Charges range from $500-$1,500 per call. If a creditor is using an auto-dialer, these fines can pile up. If it is proven that a caller is willfully violating the TCPA, by repeatedly calling without your permission or after you ask them to stop, then it is $1,500 per call. By tracking the number of times they call your cell phone, the penalties can make a point.
Why Does Rescinding Consent Need to Be Done in Writing?
Only telling a creditor to stop calling does not always work. If you are not sure how they got your cell phone number, play it safe and revoke your consent in writing. Having a hard copy of your letter legally verifies you have told them to stop calling. Proving the withdrawal of consent is the best way to make sure they get fined.
Does This Law Protect You During Bankruptcy Filing?
Your creditors receive letters stating you are in the process of filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy and that collection calls should cease or be directed to your attorney. This regulation is the Automatic Stay Law. Creditors must comply with it. Collection agencies try getting around this law by calling your cell phone or that of a family member. Using the Automatic Stay Law in conjunction with the TCPA can help protect you, your friends, and family from being hassled.
What If Unwanted Automated Calls Keep Coming?
Be proactive and start documenting the calls. Consult a legal professional like the Indiana bankruptcy attorneys at Sawin & Shea. We understand how to make a case against creditors who violate the Automatic Stay Law and the TCPA. Stop the harassment by contacting our legal team at 317-759-1483 or send an Email for a Free Consultation. We are ready to help.