The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) contains guidelines on correct debt collection practices. These guidelines lay out specific parameters for collectors on how and when to call or communicate with consumers.
However, with the numerous lawsuits that the Act has undergone, it is slowly ceasing to be an instrument of consumer protection against undue harassment. Instead, it is posing challenges to genuine and legitimate debt collectors while no longer supporting the real victims of debt harassment.
Enacted in 1991, the Act was formed to protect consumers from unsolicited telemarketing calls and harassing unregulated communication through faxes. Thus, the TCPA also regulates automated recordings and prerecorded calls.
Since its enactment, it has undergone modifications and now includes modern communication methods, including the mobile phone. With a few exceptions, the TCPA prohibits a business from calling a consumer’s mobile phone without their consent. This includes the use of automated voice systems as well. Further, the Act has been extended to other means of communication, including text messages and other methods.
The current scenario
However, through the years, the Act has faced its share of litigation; most often the very tenets of the Act are being challenged since the communication received by customers does not follow the directions of the consumers.
In the process, the face of the Act is also changing from one of consumer rights protection to an instrument that is being misused and is in fact, of disadvantage to genuinely aggrieved collectors and marketers.
According to an ACA International’s (The Association of Credit and Collection Professionals) white paper titled ACA International White Paper Shows How Outdated TCPA Only Serves to Enrich Plaintiff Attorneys, “Amid increasing calls for reform of the 1991 Telephone Consumer Protection Act, research shows that the law is not protecting consumers.”
Application of the TCPA is steadily extending to industries that go beyond telemarketing. This also includes genuine callers who need information from consumers. We understand that it is vital that business-related communication, including that from debt collection agencies, be allowed through and not get lost in lawsuits. But this communication needs to follow the directives of the TCPA.
One of the consequences of not communicating with consumers as per their instructions is that vital directives of genuine collectors may be lost. When this happens, both parties lose out, the consumer as well as the collector. Because the consumer is not contacted the way in which they have specifically instructed, they are more likely to respond to it negatively or even pursue a lawsuit when threatened.
After reading the ACA article , Scott Bocchio, Esq., who is the principal lawyer at Legal Rights Advocates, PLLC, feels that the problem is that some Debt Collection “professionals” do not send communications to consumers in the way that the consumer requests to be contacted and most TCPA cases settle pre-litigation for considerably less than what is being reported in this story ($250-$350 per call after revocation occurred).
Moreover, this also curtails the extent of aid or help that a consumer could access for resolving their debt. This can include choosing options such as whether to take legal aid for the actual non-adherence to directions or to seek a way out of the debt through a step such as bankruptcy.
Legal Rights Advocates, PLLC is a law firm that specializes in helping clients who are being harassed by debt collectors. Our team of attorneys, over the years, has helped countless clients get protections from debt collection practices that are deemed as unlawful and illegal under the FDCPA and TCPA laws. Call us on (855) 254-7841 for immediate assistance to put an end to debt collection harassment.