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If I’m in Debt, How Does the Telephone Consumer Protection Act Protect Me?
Debt collectors have the right to make you aware of an unpaid debt and even make attempts to collect. They don’t, however, have the right to harass you. Most of these anti-harassment protections are made law through the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA). Under the FDCPA, you have the right to sue if you are being mistreated by certain creditors— an important protection that more and more consumers are being made aware of.
What fewer people know about, is the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and how it protects people in debt. Under the TCPA, you are also protected against harassment, primarily harassment using robocalling.
Four Protections Debtors Can Claim Under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act
There are four main protections that the Telephone Consumer Protection Act gives people in debt the right to.
You are protected from all prerecorded autodialed collection calls unless you give explicit consent. Recorded robocalls are allowed under federal law, but only if you have explicitly given your written consent. One way that this often happens is by signing your name on a contract and giving a contact number. Luckily, you can revoke that consent in writing at any time, after which point the bill collectors should not be allowed to autodial you—or depending on how you revoke your consent, call you at all.
You are protected from having calls meant for you reach third parties on numbers on which you are not the actual subscriber. Under the TCPA, autodialed calls can only be placed to a person who gives their consent if the number is owned by that person. If you are not the actual subscriber on the contract (for example, if you give your boyfriend’s or girlfriend’s number), any robocalls are illegal. In addition, the FDCPA protects against releasing information about debts to unauthorized third parties, so no one should hear about the debt but you.
You are protected from receiving calls before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. The TCPA limits autodialed calls to between these hours.
You are protected from autodialed calls to your cell phone or any line where you are charged for the call. Cell phones are particularly protected in the TCPA unless you give specific consent to call that number. In addition, the TCPA makes robocalling any number that charges you per call illegal.
When you are in debt, the TCPA should give you peace of mind and protection against aggressive robocalling collection tactics. Unfortunately, not all bill collectors follow the law. Luckily, the TCPA gives you recourse for harassing violations. If you are being called in violation of the TCPA, you can sue for $500-$1500 per illegal call received.
If you believe you are being harassed in violation of the TCPA, you have the right to fight back. Call the Ohio consumer protection lawyers at Luftman, Heck, and Associates today to set up your free consultation at (888) 726-3181. Find out if you are being subjected to illegal harassment and how we may be able to help get you justice.