Collector - July 2018 - 14
Making the Connection
How well do you know the TCPA?
By Anne Rosso May
he Telephone Consumer Protection
Act is a federal statute that was
enacted in 1991 to rein in certain
telemarketing activities. Even though you
are a debt collector and not a telemarketer,
the TCPA directly applies to the accounts
receivable management industry because it
puts limitations on automated dialed calls as
well as text and voice messages, which many
debt collection agencies use to connect with
consumers for legitimate business purposes.
The Federal Communications
Commission oversees and interprets the
TCPA. The FCC, along with state attorneys
general and individual consumers, can sue
companies for alleged TCPA violations,
resulting in huge fines and penalties.
How can you be sure you are complying
with TCPA expectations? As a debt
collector, here are two things you should be
WHAT NUMBER IS THIS?
Pay attention to the number you are
calling: Is it attached to a landline or a
cellphone? Placing a call through a dialer
to a phone number that may or may not be
connected to a cellphone is a risky move,
especially if you don't have consumer
consent to call the cellphone. Examine the
account information carefully.
The TCPA doesn't prohibit manually
dialed calls to cellphones, so you can
manually dial a consumer's cellphone to
discuss a debt. Once you have confirmed
the consumer's identity and have consent
to communicate on the wireless number,
you can switch to an automated dialer for
Sometimes wireless phone numbers are
recycled or reassigned to other consumers.
If the consumer who answers the phone is
not person you were intending to reach,
it's possible the wireless number is now
attached to a new subscriber. Apologize to
the consumer for the inconvenience, mark
the number as a wrong-party call in your
file and remove it from your database to
prevent future calls.
Listen carefully to voicemail messages
too-if the name on the message doesn't
match the name in your file, that should be
DO YOU HAVE THE CONSUMER'S
CONSENT TO CALL?
Under the TCPA, you must get the
consumer's prior express consent to place
automated calls to a cellphone number.
This consent may have been obtained
in the original creditor's agreement or
contract with the consumer-if so, it
should be in the account notes. If you
don't see consent attached to the file, you
will need to obtain it in a manual call
before pushing calls to a wireless number
through a dialer.
Keep in mind that a consumer calling
you from a cellphone number isn't giving
you "implied consent" to call him back
through your dialer on that number. If
your system doesn't recognize the inbound
number, specifically ask the consumer for
consent to call him on that line, and record
it in the account notes.
Consumers can revoke their consent
to be contacted at any time; listen for this
when you talk to consumers and make
appropriate notes in their file to remove the
number from any dialer call lists.
If the consumer revokes consent to be
called on his cellphone, can you place a
manually dialed call to the number the
next day? The answer is maybe. While
the TCPA would not prevent the call, as
a debt collector you are still bound to the
requirements of the Fair Debt Collection
Practices Act. Prior to calling the consumer's
cellphone, you'll want to carefully review
the specifics of the revocation and your
company's policies as they relate to do-notcall requests under the FDCPA.
Anne Rosso May is editor of Collector