Effective September 1, 2009, U.S. telemarketers can't make computer-generated calls to homeowners without prior written permission. The main strategy for homeowners still receiving such "robocalls" is to put their phone numbers on the national do-not-call list maintained by the federal government. At least once a month, companies must "scrub" their contact lists of numbers that are in the do-not-call registry.
Debt collectors are exempt from this law. The obvious way to end debt-related calls is to pay your bill. Barring that, actually taking the call can make the calls less frequent. There are ways to stop these calls entirely.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- E-mail address
Go to the Do-Not-Call Registry's website at http://donotcall.gov.>
Click the button labelled "Register a Phone Number."
Enter each phone number you want removed from companies' contact lists--up to 3 at a time. It doesn't matter whether you enter the 7-digit number with or without hyphens.
Enter your e-mail address in the appropriate blank, so the government can send you an e-mail to confirm your request. The government is not collecting e-mail addresses to barrage you with spam later on, but instead to prevent anyone from putting your phone number on the list without your permission.
Wait to receive the confirmation e-mail, and click the link provided to confirm your request. You should receive the email within a few hours. If not, check to see if it got caught in your spam filter. Once you click the confirmation link, you're done. From that day forward, companies have a month to remove your number from their contact lists. Your number won't be deleted from the national do-not-call list unless you call (888) 382-1222 to have it removed.
File a complaint at the Do-Not-Call site if the calls don't stop within 30 days.
Call the contact number the debt collector gives in its message. When someone answers, request a "written collections notice sent via U.S. Mail." They have five business days in which to comply. If you receive another call (and your phone records will verify this), you are allowed to sue the debt collector in federal court up to a maximum of £650 for statutory damages plus any legal fees for violating the Federal Debt Collection Practice Act (FDCPA). If they do send you the written notice, the law allows them to begin its robocalls all over again after a 30-day waiting period is over. If they do start up, go to the next step.
Find the contact address on the correspondence they mail you. A P.O. box doesn't count. You'll need to find a street address instead. Some debt collectors bury it in fine print, so look hard.
Write a letter to the contact address requesting them to prove their identity (since they want you to send them your money) and prove they have a legal right to collect debt in your own state (not in their state). Also request the debt amount, the original lender's name and address and how the debt collector happened to acquire the debt.
Add that the debt collector is no longer allowed to contact you by phone--that all contact must be by mail only. From here on, if they call, you can sue them (again) for up to £650 for violating the FDCPA.
Go to the post office, where you'll have them send your letter by "certified mail with return receipt." Keep the receipt.
Hire a lawyer to sue the debt collector in federal court if the calls continue after doing all the above. Tell the lawyer each violation to maximise your statutory damages award. If you're afraid to hire a lawyer because of the legal fees, keep in mind that the legal fees are part of the award if you win.
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