How to document a TCPA violation
How to Document COLLECTION & TELEMARKETER HARASSMENT
The Fair Debt Collection Practice Act (FDCPA)
The FDCPA is a federal consumer protection law that regulates the collection industry. It requires collection agencies to pay consumers actual and statutory damages, plus attorney fees for violations.
Debt Collectors Violate the Federal Law When They:
- Call you at work despite you or your employer’s requests to stop.
- Call you at home despite your requests to stop.
- Make abusive or harassing phone calls to you.
- Talk to others about your debt.
- Add unauthorized collection charges.
- Threaten you with criminal prosecution or reporting to Internal Revenue Service.
- Threaten you with garnishment unless they already have a judgment against you.
- Do not state the exact amount of the debt in initial demand letters.
- Insist on payment within less than 30 days of their initial demand letter.
- Bad debt buyers attempting to collect old debts they cannot substantiate.
- Tell consumers even if they file bankruptcy they still have to pay
- Tell consumers they must use unemployment checks to pay their debts
- Tell consumers their social security and pensions will be garnished
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)
The TCPA regulates how Debt collectors and Telemarketers may contact consumers on the phone. This law prohibits both collectors and sellers from making “robo” computer dialed calls or texts to cell phones or leaving pre-recorded or computer messages on cell phones.
The offenders must pay between $500-1500 per call when caught. The damages in these cases can add up quick. For example, in 2012, Papa John's Pizza racked up over $250 Million dollars in damages by unlawfully texting adverts to cell phones without the cell phone owner's consent.
The TCPA also prohibits telemarketing calls to numbers registered on the national "Do Not Call" (DNC) list. Under the DNC rules there is no requirement that the calls be computer generated or contain pre-recorded voice messages, but if they do, damages under two sections of the TCPA may be stacked for a potential award of up to $3000.00 per call.
HOW TO WIN YOUR CASE
Call log Example:
Caller ID – 888-888-8888. Called me at 1:03 pm on March 21, 2007 by this new collection agency. Caller identified herself as Ms. Green from Merchant’s Credit Guide Co. located at 223 W. Jackson Blvd., Ste. 900, Chicago, IL 60606 regarding:
Merchants Credit Guide file: #15-489831
Client: Palisades Collection, LLC
Client Account: #9834685
After I told her that I could not afford to pay right now, she said fine, you deadbeat loser. You are exactly the reason why our economy is in the shit. We're sending your case to the prosecutor for investigation on federal fraud charges. You will be hearing from our lawyer next week and the sheriff.
Call #2: Called me again on March 22, 2007 at 2:15 pm by Merchants Credit Guide Co. Caller (female voice) left the following message on my answering machine.
Message: This is a message for _____. If you are not ______ please hang up or disconnect. (Dictate the entire message)…
Save ALL communications you have with any debt collectors and telemarketers, whether by letter, by phone, by text message or by voice message.
- Answer or return all calls as this ensures they show up in your phone records.
- Find out who is calling you! Google caller ID number and use “800Notes.com”, “Callferret.com” and “Whocalledus.com” or other similar consumer blogs to find out who's calling you.
- Request bill collectors to mail you "verification" of the original creditor, when the debt was incurred and for how much.
- Avoid answering collector’s questions. You may say, “I cannot afford to pay you now but I’ll try to send you a payment next month.”
- Repeat this mantra in response to every collector question
- Let the caller do most of the talking and write down what they say.
- Remember that the caller may be recording the call so always be polite.
- Keep all collection letters and envelopes and anything else the collector mails you. Do not write notes on this evidence.
- If collectors/creditors are computer dialing or leaving pre-recorded messages on your cell phone, then call our office IMMEDIATELY.
- Don't give consent to be called on your cell phone.
- Obtain and keep your telephone and cell phone records!
Take digital photos of your Caller ID, showing date and time of incoming calls
Keep a separate notebook next to your phone, and take notes of all your conversations with creditors, collectors and telemarketers. Please include the following information:
- Date and time of call
- Whether the caller shows as "unavailable" or the number appearing on the caller ID
- How many minutes did call last?
- Caller’s name
- Collection agency or telemarketer’s name and phone number
What did they say (be specific).
Use the example of the format below to document the calls that you receive:
Continue to keep detailed records of all calls, texts and messages that you receive. Before you bring your documentation to Rex Anderson, P.C. for the attorney to review, if possible, please type your handwritten notes to an electronic file and email to our office.
Try to document your collection harassment in digital form as soon as you can and while the details are still fresh in your memory. BE SURE TO KEEP YOUR ORIGINAL HAND WRITTEN CALL LOG!
Photograph your Caller ID every time you receive a call from a debt collector.
You can always revoke consent to receive calls on your cell phone – an example of a revocation letter follows:
Citibank Client Services
100 Citibank Dr.
San Antonio, TX 78245
RE: Acct# xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx
Please stop calling me at this number ________________________.
You may contact me by mail at my residence and I will respond.
Address, city and state
Make sure you keep a photocopy of your letter and envelope with correct addresses to and from, with the stamp on it. If your spouse is receiving calls – add that number to the above letter. All robo calls or pre-recorded voice messages to your cell phone after you revoke consent to be called are actionable.
Conclusion: If you are willing to work with me on documenting collection and telemarketing violations, then we can ensure that these violators comply with the law and in the process see that you, the consumer, is compensated as the law provides.
Often times, these cases are ideally suited for class actions, which provide additional compensation for the class representatives.
Call me if you have any questions.