Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Feb 6, 2020

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Debt collectors who call you on your cell phone without your express written consent are violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). If you are being harassed by debt collectors, you may be entitled to $1,500 per unauthorized call.

Debtor Rights Attorney Steve Recordon

Since many debtors don’t know about the TCPA, we interviewed Steve Recordon, an attorney from San Diego, California whose firm represents individuals who have been sued or harassed by debt buyers, to tell us more. Here’s what he said:

  • Why should someone contact an attorney in these cases? There are two reasons. One is that their privacy has been invaded and the second is that they may be entitled to money damages. They didn’t give anybody their cell phone number and shouldn’t have someone calling them either asking for money or asking questions about their mom. It’s not right and it shouldn’t continue. A lawyer can stop that from happening.

    There’s a $500 per phone call minimum damage element under the statute. That’s if it’s unintentional. If it’s intentional, the maximum damage element is $1,500 per phone call. In my opinion, I don’t see how it could ever really be unintentional. They’re either making the phone call or they’re not. And if they make the phone call, they intended to make the phone call; therefore it’s intentional, and, therefore, the $1,500 applies.

  • Violations add up. I had a client tell me that they’ve received a call every day for the past three months. So, 90 calls times $1,500 per offense equals $135,000. That’s the actual debtor they’re calling, but you can’t exclude the others such as family members or friends. Sometimes coworkers and neighbors are also getting called on their cell phones. These companies can be downright aggressive.
  • Most calls are intentional. So far, the only plausible argument I’ve heard about a call being unintentional was from one of the defense lawyers. He told me that his client bought the debt from Capital Once and that Capital One said they had permission to call the person on their cell phone. However, it just doesn’t hold water. I love creative reasoning and you get a lot of that from debt buyers’ lawyers. They’re just trying to avoid paying $1,500 per offense rather than $500 per offense. When you’re talking about a class action with 30,000 members, it adds up.

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Getting Help

If you believe that a debt collector has contacted you in violation of the TCPA or you’ve been harassed by a debt buyer in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), contact an experienced debtor’s right attorney to discuss your situation and evaluate your options.