The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) prohibits debt collectors from calling a cell phone number using an automatic telephone dialing system without the debtor’s prior express consent. Automatic telephone dialing systems include “predictive dialers” and any equipment that has the capacity to store or produce telephone numbers using a random or sequential number generator and to dial the numbers automatically. You can often recognize calls made with these systems because of the brief delay between when the call is answered and the caller speaks.
Prior express consent means the debtor gave his or her cell phone number to the original creditor at the same time the debt was incurred, for instance in a credit application. If the cell phone number was provided to the creditor after the debt was incurred, it doesn’t fit the law’s definition of prior express consent. Violations of the TCPA can result in statutory damages of $500 for each call, or up to $1500 per call if the violation was willful or knowing. Since most debt collectors know whether they are calling a cell phone or landline, their phone calls are frequently willful or knowing, leading to treble damages. If you think a debt collector is violating the TCPA start keeping good records and contact us.