The FCC Affirms Telephone Consumer Protection Act Protections Against Robo–Calls Despite Protests by Banks, Debt Collectors and Telemarketers.
The FCC voted 2-3 in favor of continuing protections afforded to consumers against nuisance and harassing robo-calling and robo-texting by telemarketers and debt collection agencies.
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) enacted in 1991 has been the single most popular consumer protection law of all time. The TCPA is a privacy statute, which permits the consumer to elect how he or she wishes to be contacted by sellers, telemarketers and debt collection agencies. The FCC commissioners were in agreement that, “Everyone hates getting calls from Rachel at card services” waking them up in the morning or during their family dinner hour. The FCC received 200,000 complaints about robocalls in one month.
This decision has been long awaited by the Debt collection industry who filed numerous petitions to the FCC seeking exemption from the TCPA. Debt collectors have continued to search for and create loopholes wherein they claim the TCPA does not apply to their collection robo-calls.
In the past few years, collectors have been able to convince many US District court judges to hold consumer lawsuits in abeyance pending the FCC consideration and determination of the numerous debt collector petitions asking the FCC to modify its prior decisions in favor of consumer privacy.
Yesterday, the FCC spoke again, and again reiterated collection robo-calls to cells phone are illegal if the consumer says to stop. Of particular interest, was that the order also specifies that consumers who had previously consented to robo-calls could withdraw that consent at any time and “through any reasonable means.” This means that to make the robo-calls stop, all the consumer needs to do is tell the debt collector to stop calling his telephone number. This can be done orally, in writing, by text or email. It would be advisable for the consumer to retain some evidence of “revocation,” should the matter proceed to litigation, but it is not necessary.
Although the debt collectors and telemarkers continue to raise the same old arguments of out of control class action litigation, it is really the offenders of this law who control the litigation. If you do not want class actions being filed then the obvious solution is to stop violating the law. The cost effectiveness of using automated telephone dialers to blast consumers and debtors with collection calls is better then paying individuals collectors to do this work. So for many Debt Collection Agencies it is more profitable to violate the TCPA and pay its defense lawyers and pay class action consumer settlements than it is to obey the law. And so the debt collection industry continues to develop and utilize this technology to its own economic advantage while at the same time using or creating loopholes and asking politicians to change the law in their favor.
Despite the continued efforts of the Banking and Debt Collection Industry, the FCC has affirmed the basic concepts of the TCPA which is to allow the individual consumer to make the decision on whether he or she may be contacted and communicated with by automated computers, artificial intelligence and or pre-recorded voice messages.
The American people have spoken and Congress listened for change. Now the FCC has also listened and the message to debt collectors and telemarketers is loud and clear: no more unauthorized, automated calls.
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