From Collector: Put It In Writing

5/19/2017 11:00 AM

What to do when a consumer tells you to stop calling.

NewsCollector Magazine

Picture this: You’re talking on the phone with a consumer about her debt when she suddenly says, “I’m not paying this debt. Stop calling me.”

What are your obligations? Are debt collectors obliged to cease all communications with the consumer in these instances? Should they merely stop making calls, or can they ignore such requests altogether?

ACA International’s Senior Compliance Analyst Andrew Pavlik provides an overview of options in the May issue of Collector magazine.

Consulting the Statute

Under Section 805(c) of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, a debt collector must cease communications with a consumer if the consumer sends a written notice stating “refuses to pay a debt or that the consumer wishes the debt collector to cease further communication with the consumer,” Pavlik reports.

Based on the plain wording of the statute, a consumer’s oral request to stop calling or oral refusal to pay would not trigger a debt collector’s duty under this section to refrain from further communications with the consumer.

But wait, that’s not the end of the story. While the protections of Section 805(c) are only triggered by a consumer’s written notice, we must also consider other sections of the act.

Take, for example, Section 805(a) (1), which states that a debt collector must refrain from communications “at any unusual time or place or a time or place known or which should be known to be inconvenient to the consumer.”

Other issues may come into play if your agency is using an autodialer or a prerecorded message to place calls to a cell phone.

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act prohibits any caller from using an autodialer or prerecorded message to call a consumer’s wireless phone, unless the caller has the called party’s prior express consent to call the number.

Individuals have the right to revoke such consent in any reasonable way at any time. Thus, a consumer’s verbal request to stop calling her wireless phone may amount to revocation of consent, meaning that future autodialed calls to that wireless number may violate the TCPA.

Keeping all these issues in mind, a collector needs to determine what steps it will take in response to consumers’ verbal requests, and implement corresponding policies and procedures, Pavlik reports.

On Wednesday, read about how Kansas Counselors Inc.’s employees volunteer to help at-risk youth in their community.

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