TCPA: What Is It & How Does It Affect You?
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA) does many things – including prohibiting debt collectors from calling your cell phone without your permission. Each unauthorized call could result in the debt collector paying you up to $1,500. Here’s some helpful information on the Act and how it might affect you.
What is the TCPA?
The TCPA, which was signed into law in 1991 under the first Bush Administration and codified under 47 U.S.C. 227, prohibits calls using any automatic telephone dialing system or artificial or prerecorded voices to:
Emergency telephone lines
Telephone lines of any guest room or patient room at a hospital, health care facility, elderly home or similar establishment
Telephone numbers assigned to paging services, cellular telephone services, specialized mobile radio services, other radio common carrier services or any service for which the called party is charged for the call
Any telephone call to a residential telephone line
Send unauthorized faxes
The only way that a caller won’t violate the statute is if express consent has been given – and violations of the TCPA are steep. An unintentional call carries a damage amount of $500; an intentional call carries a damage amount of $1,500. That’s per call and regardless of the purpose of the call. In other words, if they call you using an automated dialing system without your consent, they’ve violated the Act and you are entitled to damages.
How does it affect you?
Most debt collectors use automatic telephone dialing systems to contact debtors. You’ll recognize this when you go to pick up the phone and there is a slight hesitation on the other end. In fact, most debt collectors are calling nearly 100 people at a time just waiting for someone to answer. Although many have stopped calling landlines, cell phones are another story. Since more and more people are using cell phones either instead of, or in addition to, traditional landlines, debt collectors are finding their cell phone numbers using skip tracers, calling them and hoping that they don’t realize that the TCPA has been violated.
If you believe that a debt collector has contacted you in violation of the TCPA, contact an experienced debtor’s right attorney to discuss your situation and evaluate your options. Consultations are free, without obligation and are strictly confidential.
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