New York | New Jersey Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) Attorneys
There are few things as annoying to phone users as robocalls and unsolicited text messages. Some of these are valuable; they might remind you to vote or to apply for health insurance during the enrollment period. Unfortunately, most robocalls serve no beneficial purpose to you and might originate from scammers, unethical companies that text you advertisements without your permission and debt collectors. Hiring an experienced lawyer in this area of law can help you put a stop to these calls once and for all.
To do this, the Schmierer Law Group can seek protections on your behalf under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. TCPA protects consumers in the United States from receiving certain types of marketing calls, as well as receiving phone calls regarding the collection of debts in particular circumstances. Learn more about your legal rights under the TCPA and how you can ensure they remain protected.
Debt collection and the TCPA
Unless your debts are legally discharged in bankruptcy, there is no law that will remove your responsibility to pay a debt. The TCPA does not eliminate what you owe but rather regulates how creditors and debt collectors may contact you with respect to your debt obligations. The TCPA regulates auto-dialed calls, text messages, pre-recorded calls, telemarking calls, and even faxes that are unsolicited.
Congress first enacted the TCPA in 1991. However, it received major updates in 2012. Here are some of the most notable:
- Telemarketers now need your express written permission to contact you.
- During each phone call, telemarketers must provide an automated option for opting out of receiving further phone calls.
- Telemarketers can no longer rely on an existing business relationship to justify robocalling customers.
Residential phone lines vs. Wireless phone numbers
Despite these updates, debt collectors do not always need explicit permission to actually contact a residential phone number and may reach a debtor directly, through an auto-dialer, or through a pre-recorded phone call. However, this same standard does not hold true for wireless phone numbers. Wireless phone users must provide explicit consent to a creditor or debt collector in order to receive a phone call or text message on their cellular phone regarding a debt collection.
Additionally, a wireless user must provide explicit consent in order to receive a call from a creditor or debt collector through an automatic telephone dialing system. Without it, if a debt collector or creditor calls you, they may face steep penalties and fines.
Our experienced New Jersey lawyers can walk you through the process of ensuring they face consequences for their actions. Note that in some instances, you might give permission for robocalls when you download apps or sign contracts with completely different companies. However, you may have the right to revoke the consent previously provided.
National Do Not Call Registry
It might surprise you to know that there is a national database maintained by the U.S. government that lists numbers that should not be contacted by telemarketers. In fact, no one might be as surprised as the millions of Americans who register for this database but continue to receive nuisance calls anyway.
Unfortunately, the FTC does not have the power to enforce a block on calls to the number. It merely provides a list of contacts that telemarketers should respect by not calling. The FTC also acknowledges that there is little it can do about scammers that pay no heed to the registry unless people report them.
The good news is that once your number has been in the registry for 31 days or so, you can begin to report the calls you receive from non-live callers. In fact, the FTC encourages you to report the number even if you are not currently on the list.
Note that there are a few exceptions to organizations that can contact you whether you join the registry or not. These include the following:
- Political organizations
- Telephone surveyors
- Debt collectors
Even though debt collectors may have the right to keep contacting you until told otherwise, there are limitations. For instance, they can only contact debtors after 8 a.m. and no later than 9 p.m. If you are not allowed to take calls at work, they cannot phone you there are at all.
Finally, when they call you, they must follow particular guidelines. For instance, they cannot provide a false figure for how much you owe, threaten to take your property or threaten physical harm. If you experience these and other examples of harassment, contact our experienced New Jersey-based lawyers to see how they can help.
Holding debt collectors accountable
You have the legal right to hold creditors and debt collectors accountable for their actions if they violate the TCPA. These laws are created for the consumer and intended to protect you. However, some regulations regarding the TCPA can be challenging and complex. In order to protect yourself, always take detailed notes regarding the times you receive a phone call, text, or automated message, and whether those were on your wireless phone without your prior consent.
Take notes during any phone call to see if the creditor or debt collector ever fails to follow any of the guidelines legally required by the TCPA. Also, keep all records of your phone calls from your service provider to prove that you did, in fact, receive phone calls when you specifically requested for them to cease.
Learn how an experienced attorney can help you
You may owe debts to creditors, but you still have rights under the TCPA that prevent creditors and debt collectors from harassing you regarding those debts. Abuses of the TCPA are extremely serious, and the fines can be substantial. Some violations result in $500 fines per call and under certain circumstances, up to $1,500 per call.
The Schmierer Law Group represents clients nationwide with TCPA claims. If you feel the creditors and debt collectors violated your legal rights as a consumer under the TCPA, contact an experienced attorney to ensure your legal rights are protected. The fines paid by these creditors might even help you to repay your debt or boost your savings. Contact the experienced Schmierer Law Group team today to ensure that your rights are protected under the TCPA.