I don’t know about you, but I always have my cell phone with me. While fortunately I do not have debt collectors calling me on my cell phone, a lot of my clients here in the Tampa Bay area are troubled by this every day. Many report receiving several calls per day from the same debt collector. Come on, if a person doesn’t have the money in the morning, are they really going to have it in the afternoon, or even an hour later? Realistically, these calls are meant to do one thing: harass you into paying the debt.
Collectors know this – that’s why they call our cell phones.
Is it legal for collectors to call our cell phones?
The short answer is “sometimes”.
Often times the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is violated and a debt collector is liable for $1,000 in statutory damages. In Florida, the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (FCCPA) provides additional protections including $1,000 per violation.
The most powerful law that is normally violated is the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). When a collector violates this law, the collector can liable for $500 or $1500.
Yes – the collector that calls your cell phone five times a day may be liable to you for $2500 or $7500. Per day.
This is a powerful law and is one of the only ways to stop illegal collection activities against you.
A collector has the right to collect a valid and legitimate debt. A collector has the right to contact us on our cell phone in certain circumstances. However, even if you have given permission to a debt collector to call you on your cell phone, you have the right to withdraw that permission.
If you think you may have given permission to call your cell phone, revoke that permission immediately. We suggest sending a letter that sets forth your cell phone number and tells the collector they no longer have permission (if they ever did) to call your cell phone.
Send all letters certified mail, return receipt requested.
You can also tell them on the phone the same thing. A couple of points:
Document everything about the call – who you spoke with, what you said, the time and date of the call, the number you called or that called you, etc.
How the collector contacts us and what the collector says determines if the call was legitimate or illegal. Autodialers are often illegal. In making their quotas, collectors decide they can “cross the line” and break the law to collect a legitimate debt. You can decide to hire an attorney to sue them for breaking the law.