Debt collectors punished for violating Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)

A law passed in 1991 designed to end expensive, unwanted calls to cell phones is now being used to win awards from debt collectors.

The TCPA forbids prerecorded calls to residential land lines without consent.  It has stricter rules for cell phones, even forbidding calls by humans to cell phones using an auto dialer.  Calls using an auto dialer to cell phones (without written permission) that are not emergencies can incur fines of $500 to $1,000.

According to the Wall Street Journal, one lawyer, Joshua Swiggart of Hyde & Swiggart in San Diego has used this law to launch class action suits against debt collectors.

He got a $970,000 settlement against NCO Systems for auto-dialing debt collections, and went on from there; winning $17 million from Welles Fargo and Freddie Mac, $32 million from Bank of America, and $24 million from student lender SLM Corporation.

With favorable rulings by the FCC and the Supreme Court, TCPA cases have exploded with more than 350 being brought in federal court since 2011.

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