Proposed Rule Will Limit How Many Times a Debt Collector Can Call You
A common complain that consumers have is that collectors call them too much. Some consumers, desperate for relief, even resort to changing their phone number. A new rule is being proposed, which has opposition from both collection agencies and consumer advocates, that could significantly alter how many times you are contacted by a collection agency to collect a debt.
How Many Calls Are Allowed?
Although it may seem like excessive phone calls are harassing, neither the Fair Debt Collections Act (FDCPA), or Florida’s version of the FDCPA, the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act, state specific limits on how many times a debt collector can call you (assuming you don’t request to not be contacted, which is a different issue), although the FDCPA does restrict the times debt collectors can call you to between 8am and 9pm.
Rather, both federal and Florida’s laws use general language, such as making it illegal for debt collectors to be “harassing.” Courts have not taken kindly to lawsuits that allege that debt collectors call consumers so much so as to be harassing, except in the most severe cases. And because every case is determined differently on its own facts, there is no solid guideline telling consumers or debt collectors how many calls are too much. This has had the effect of allowing collection agencies to contact consumers almost as many times as they want.
New Rule Proposes Limits
A new rule is being proposed that would finally specify the number of calls debt collectors can make. The rule would allow debt collectors to call or text consumers up to seven times a week.
Debt collectors don’t love this proposed new rule, because it creates a “bright line” limit. If a debt collector calls eight times a week, they are open to being sued under the FDCPA, whereas today, eight times a week likely would not be enough to create a viable lawsuit.
Consumers don’t like the rule either, citing eight times a week as too many times. This is especially true in cases of medical debt. A visit to the ER can create debts from the hospital, the ER group, the emergency responders, radiologists, etc. If each of these entities can call seven times a week, it subjects consumers with medical debt to an enormous amount of collection calls.
The proposed rule also prohibits debt collectors from trying to collect debt that is too old to be legally collected. Consumer groups like this idea. The problem is that the law only makes it a violation of collections laws if the collector knows or should have known that the debt was too old to be legally collected.
With debt buyers buying thousands of accounts at once often with little knowledge about the age of each debt (or without paperwork to back up the debts they collect), it is likely that many would fall under that legal exception.
Protect yourself from abusive or harassing debt collectors. Contact the Miami consumer rights attorneys at Jacobs Legal to help you enforce your rights under every consumer protection statute.