New Rules Allow Debt Collection Robocalls from the Feds

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The Federal Communications Commission released its final rules allowing the federal government and some third party contractors to make debt-collection robocalls to wireless lines. These robocalls can begin as soon as it’s determined that an account is delinquent; and up to 30 days in advance in specific cases. Robocalls must disclose to the recipient that they can opt out of receiving future robocalls at any time. Collectors can’t robocall anyone other than the debtor or person responsible for the debt.

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) generally prohibits businesses from making a non-emergency robocall to a wireless number without the recipient’s prior consent.

In late 2015, Congress revised the TCPA to explicitly exempt robocalls that involve the collection of debts owed to the federal government. The final FCC report and order [PDF] applies to calls made to wireless lines, not landlines. The FCC says robocalls can be made on loans that are merely delinquent. In certain cases, 30 days before an account is even past-due.

The FCC determined that these robocalls can “only be made to the debtor or another person or entity legally responsible for paying the debt.” Robocalls are not permitted to others who are not liable for the debt, even if listed as references or witnesses on paperwork for the debt.

The new rules grant permission for robocalls to whatever wireless number you used when applying for the loan, incurred the debt, or any number you’ve subsequently given to the debt owner. Collectors can make calls to wireless numbers obtained from independent sources “provided that the number actually is the debtor’s telephone number.” What if the person who previously had your wireless number owes money to the IRS? According to the rules, the collectors are allowed one call to a “reassigned” number before they are in violation. The FCC says the content of these robocalls must be related to collecting a debt, and does not extend to telemarketing. You can be robocalled up to three times in a 30-day period for each debt. If you owe the IRS money and you’re late on your student loans, you could receive up to three calls per month for each debt. The FCC requires these robocalls make it clear that the debtor can request that these calls be stopped at any time. Every robocall or text placed by the collectors must disclose this right. If one has multiple debts to the federal government, they would have to opt out for each one. Calls are limited to being placed between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. local time, identical to the current rules for telemarketing calls. Each prerecorded call is limited to a maximum of 60 seconds.

Read More in this article published on the Consumerist.

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About Michael 224 Articles
Michael is our Business Information Specialist and will be writing at least one article per week for the consumer education blog. He works with accredited businesses to ensure we maintain current contact information and licensing. He is usually first to answer the phone; so odds are good you will be speaking with him when calling our office.

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