Under some circumstances, a collector may invite substantial liability and end up turning over a pretty large check to a Washington or Oregon consumer for making collections calls to a cell phone. Federal law now places stringent limits on debt collectors using automated dialing machines. How often does this happen? If there are a few moments of silence on your line when you pick up a call, chances are good that the collector is using an auto-dialer. If the collection agency leaves a pre-recorded message, the odds are also great that the caller used an auto-dialer.
How do collectors get around this rule? If you gave the original creditor express permission to call their cell phone (disclosed it in the original contract as one of your contact numbers, etc.) then such permission protects the collection agency or debt buyer. But if you didn’t provide your cell number to the collector or the original creditor, the debt collector violates the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) each time it calls your cell phone by using an auto-dialer. Debt collectors who violate the TCPA are liable for $ 500 per violation and, if the violation is willful, up to $ 1,500 per call.
Washington and Oregon consumers who actually provided their cell phone number to the debt collector (but not the original creditor) and do not wish to continue to receive collection calls on their cell phone should send the debt collector a letter via certified mail / return receipt requested stating that : “I revoke any permission that I may have ever given you or anyone else to call me on my cell phone about this account. My cell phone number is _____. Never contact call me at this number again.”
Remember that actionable violations of the TCPA take place as soon as the caller rings your line. It is essential then that you log all of the calls including the hang-ups. Our firm will give you a phone log at no charge to track these violations.
In addition to violating the TCPA, messages that consumers receive on their cell phones also often result in punishable violations not only of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) but of Oregon and Washington state consumer laws as well, so save every message and document every call. Moreover, if collectors are calling your cell, contact us immediately and set up a phone consultation or an appointment at any of our Washington or Oregon offices.