We recently had a post about voicemail messages to your home phone and everything we said there applies to cell phone messages as well. The reason we have added this post is the rampant use of auto dialers by collectors against Alabama residents who have cell phones.
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act prohibits debt collectors from using “auto dialers” or computer generated calls (you know the annoying recorded messages you get when you say “hello”) unless you gave express permission for the collection agency to call you on your cell phone.
Violations entitle you to recover $500 per call or $1500 per call if it was intentional or reckless. When you consider the massive numbers of calls most collectors make against even a single person, this can add up nicely.
But, just because a debt collector calls your cell phone does this mean the law has been violated? Remember about the express permission. There has been some controversy over what this means. What if you gave the creditor permission to call your cell or you put it on the application? Does that give the debt collector permission to auto dial your cell phone? Some say yes. Others say you must have given the debt collector itself permission.
The trend seems to be that if you have given the creditor your cell then you agree to any subsequent debt collector or debt buyer to use an auto-dialer against you. We don’t agree with this but assuming it is the law or will be the law, what are your options?
First, if you are still dealing with the creditor, revoke your permission for the creditor to call your cell phone. Our suggestion is to mail a letter (certified or fax with a confirmation) telling the creditor not to call your cell phone.
Second, if you are now dealing with a collector who is using an auto dialer against your cell phone, tell the collector it does NOT have permission to use an auto dialer. You only want a human being to call your cell – if it can’t get you on the human being list then remove your number all together. Again, send this certified or at least by fax. This may be enough under the law (in this developing area) to remove the ability of the collector to use these annoying auto dialers against you.
If you live in Alabama and have any questions about this, particularly if you never gave anyone permission to call your cell or if you revoked the permission, please feel free to contact us as we would like to hear about your experiences and any questions you might have.
Another resource for you is to join our Facebook Fan Page – Alabama Consumer Protection Attorneys where we share useful information about the same types of issues that we cover in this blog.