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Collection Calls To A Cell Phone For Someone Else’s Debt May Lead To TCPA Claim

Are you receiving collection calls to a cell phone for a debt that belongs to someone else?  If the calls are being made by an autodialer, you may have a claim under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”).

For there to be liability under the TCPA, collection calls to a cellphone must be made by autodialer without your “prior express consent.”  One of the easiest ways to know there was no prior express consent is when the collection calls are for a debt that was never yours to begin with and belongs to someone else.  So let’s say we’ve determined that a company is calling your cell phone attempting to collect a debt that belongs to someone else.  How do you know if the company is using an autodialer?

Creditors and debt collectors often use autodialers to collect debt because of increased economic efficiency.  Simply put, autodialers can make more calls that people can.  Autodialers can even make people more efficient at debt collection by predictive dialing.  Predictive dialing is the process of calling certain numbers and connecting a call to a real call center person only when the call is answered by an actual consumer.  A predictive dialer predicts when the real call center person will be available to take the next call and makes automatic calls in an attempt to get a real consumer on the line at just the right time.  So when  you answer a call and the real call center person does not immediately respond, this is a usually a sure sign that an autodialer is being used.  The delay between you answering and the real call center person coming on the line is the time it takes the autodialer to tell the call center person that it has made a connection with an actual consumer and then for the real call center person to get on the line.  An immediate hangup will sometimes happen when the autodialer predicted incorrectly that a real call center person would be available but they were not.  If you hear a recording in response to answer the call, that is also a sure sign that an autodialer is being used.

The sheer volume of calls can also be a sign that an autodialer is being used.  If you are receiving ten calls a day, it is unlikely – though certainly possible – that those calls are being made by a real person.

Note that texts to a cell phone are treated the same as phone calls.  Texts are even more likely than phone calls to be auto-generated.

The TCPA provides for a recovery of $500-$1500 PER CALL for calls that violate it.

You can find more information about the TCPA from the FTC here.

If the calls concerning someone else’s debt are coming from a debt collector (as opposed to the original creditor), they likely also violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

If you have received phone calls or texts to your cell phone concerning someone else’s debt, and you believe those calls or texts may have been autodialed, we would be happy to review your potential claim for free. Please submit your potential claim here.