Thanks to improvements in phone technology collection agents are able to call as many as 200 people in a single day. This type of software is commonly referred to as an autodialer. However, the use of this technology can be a breach of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).
How the Technology Works
The autodialer is software in which users can import a large list of phone numbers. The software then dials the numbers, one right after another. When one of the numbers is answered, that call will be routed to an operator to handle the call. At the same time, the information attached to the phone number, such as name, address, and the amount due appear on the operator’s screen so that they can question the debtor about the account. This allows the employees of the collection agency to spend time actually talking to people rather than dialing the phone.
Violation of the Rule
As far as collection calls go, there are two situations in which the use of the autodialer is prohibited by laws.
* Calling a phone number that is not the debtor’s number.
* Called the cell phone of the debtor.
Obviously, in the present age where more people are switching to just a cell phone for all calls, it is feasible that a person may provide a creditor with just a cell phone number. In those cases it is perfectly legal for the collector to call that number. Furthermore, a Minnesota bankruptcy law firm stated that the debtor can inform the collection agency that they are calling a cell number and to cease all further calls to that number. However, the autodialer cannot be used to call relatives, friends, or employers regardless of which number is used.
Penalties for Violating the TCPA
The penalty for using an autodialer to call your relatives or employer is $500 when the call is placed. If the collection agency had prior knowledge that the number was not the debtor’s own phone number then the fine can be tripled to $1,500 for the call. If your friends, relatives or employer is receiving collection calls on your behalf a Minneapolis bankruptcy attorney can request the phone records of the collector to see if an autodialer is being used and notify the court.