Should debt collectors be excluded from the new robocall rules?

Long after consumers have cried out for the Federal Communications Commission to step up to the plate and do something about the harassing robocalls, FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai has proposed a ruling which would allow phone companies to block unwanted solicitation phone calls to customers. The proposal goes even a step further by allowing customers to block any phone calls not in the customer personal contact list. 

Leah Dempsey, the senior counsel and vice president of the American Collectors Association, released the following statement:    

“We strongly support tailored efforts to combat illegal and fraudulent robocalls which are a huge problem for all of us who are consumers,” Dempsey said. “However, consumer harm results when legitimate business calls are blocked or mislabeled and people do not receive critical, sometimes exigent information they need. We have urged the FCC to provide guidance on how to immediately correct any faulty blocking or mislabeling of calls.”

There are many problems with allowing debt collectors to continue contacting debtors via robocalling. First, it is a violation of the FDCPA  § 804.  Acquisition of location information. When collectors call a debtor, they are to identify themselves and the company they are calling from. If we start allowing debt collectors to hide behind a mask when contacting debtors today, what will they try to get away with tomorrow? 

Another problem which arises from collectors calling debtors from robocalls is, that the call assumes the collector is calling from a different state than where they actually are. Collectors are to be licensed in the state of which they are calling the debtor in. When a debtor sends a cease and desist letter to the collection agency, that agency is to stop calling the debtor until further notice (from the debtor). 

Giving the debt collector more ways to hide behind the mask and harass consumers without recourse – what could possibly go wrong?

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