If you are receiving calls from a debt collector, you are likely receiving robocalls from a debt collector. Debt collectors frequently use autodialers, also known as robodialers, to contact consumers on their cellphones.
Here is what you need to know about robocalls from a debt collector, and why you should contact an attorney.
What is considered an autodialer/robodialer
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) has a broad and definitive definition of an autodialer (also known as a robodialer). It is equipment that has the capacity to store or produce telephone numbers to be called, using a random or sequential number and to dial the numbers.
In other words, any equipment that can store and dial numbers. Not just that, but if it has the capacity to do so, it may be considered an autodialer or robodialer. Given that broad definition, many types of equipment and technology fit the definition of an autodialer.
Debt collectors are one of the biggest users of autodialers. Given that debt collectors make get paid by collecting money for someone else, their goal is to talk to as many consumers are possible. Using an autodialer can be a very effective way for a debt collector to get a consumer on the phone.
What makes a robocall illegal
For the most part, robocalls to cellphones are strictly regulated. Debt collectors cannot call a consumer’s cellphone unless they have prior express consent to do so.
Consent can generally be provided a number of ways:
- If a consumer listed their cellphone number on an account application;
- If a consumer updated their contact information and included their cellphone number;
- If a consumer provides verbal consent for robocalls.
For the most part, a debt collector can be liable for illegal robocalls for three main reasons. One, the consumer never provided their cellphone–they never consented to the calls. Two, if a consumer revokes consent to a debt collector, the debt collector cannot continue to autodial the consumer. Three, the debt collector is calling the wrong person—which means the consumer never consented.
How to know if you are receiving robocalls
Full disclosure, although there are some key indications of robocalls, you may not spot them. If you are receiving phone calls from a debt collector though, there is a good chance they are using an autodialer.
The clearest indication of a robocall is if you receive pre-recorded voicemails from a debt collector. A pre-recorded message is a synthesized robotic voice, instead of a message left by a live person. A consumer may also hear a prerecorded message if they answer a call from a debt collector.
Another common sign of a robocall is voicemails that are only “dead-air,” or a recording with no message. You may also receive a phone call with nobody on the other end of the phone. Or there is a long pause before a debt collector starts talking to you. In some cases, a consumer may also hear mechanical clicks before a debt collector comes onto the phone.
Repeated and frequent calls from a debt collector also tend to indicate an autodialer—especially if the debt collector does not leave a message. With many companies, the call is not actually transferred to a debt collector unless the system detects that the consumer has answered. So if you don’t answer, the call will not be transferred to a collector, and no voicemail will be left.
Why you should contact an attorney about robocalls
If a debt collector makes impermissible robocalls to a consumer, the TCPA provides damages of $500 per call. A consumer can also request damages of up to $1,500 per call if they can prove the calls were “willful.”
As noted above, debt collectors get paid by collecting money for someone else—and they do that by getting consumers on the phone. With that in mind, most consumers will receive frequent calls from a debt collector—and those calls are likely made with an autodialer.
If a debt collector is making impermissible robocalls, the debt collector may have not only violated the TCPA, but they may have also violated the FDCPA. If a debt collector has also violated the FDCPA, you may be entitled to damages under both the TCPA and FDCPA. Especially if you are receiving debt collection calls from someone else’s debt.
If you are receiving robocalls from a debt collector, contact me today.