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LaToya Irby

Debt Collectors and the Do Not Call Registry

By May 24, 2014

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I've read consumers complaining about debt collectors calling them even though their number has been listed on the National Do Not Call Registry. Unfortunately, these people end up thinking the law isn't working, when that's not the problem.

The National Do Not Call Registry was created to stop calls from telemarketers. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) defines a telemarketer as someone who makes or receives calls to or from a customer to get that person to buy good or services or to make a donation (Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act). The FTC further defines a debt collector as an individual or business that collects or attempts to debts (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act). By definition, a debt collector isn't a telemarketer and wouldn't fall under jurisdiction of the National Do Not Call Registry.

When the National Do Not Call Registry was established it didn't include any of the following:

  • calls from businesses that you already have a relationship with
  • calls for which you've already given written permission
  • calls that aren't commercial and don't include unsolicited advertisements
  • calls made by or on behalf of non-profit organizations

When you signed up for a credit card or loan, you most likely gave permission for the bank to use a third-party collector to collect any delinquent debt from you. So, ultimately, you gave permission for the collectors to call you to collect the debt from you and signing up for the national do not call list won't stop calls from debt collectors.

If you wish to stop debt collector calls, you should send a written cease and desist letter to the collector stating that you no longer wish to be contacted. Aside from paying the debt, that's the only way to get a debt collector to stop calling you.

Dealing With Debt Collectors:

January 23, 2009 at 11:37 pm
(1) Elizabeth says:

I’m flabbergasted that anyone actually thinks that being on the do-not-call list means creditors can’t call them!

Also, is it really true that debt collectors will stop calling if you simply write them a letter asking them to do so? I’ve never heard that before.

January 26, 2009 at 2:01 pm
(2) credit says:

@ Elizabeth – Yes. The law requires debt collectors to stop contacting you after you’ve sent a cease and desist letter. They can only write you one more time to let you know what action they’re going to take next.

April 6, 2010 at 4:17 pm
(3) Kasey says:

Yeah I’m glad i found this. My room mate has Aspergers Syndrome and assume’s he’s always right about things. I told him that debt collectors do not pretain to the Do not Call list. But he keeps calling them and telling them he’s on the do not call list and that he will report them. haha So really he’s in the wrong.

April 25, 2010 at 2:24 am
(4) DNC does apply to debt collectors says:

A debt collector is a PRIVATE business, soliciting your consent to do business. You have no existing relationship with them. Written permission (if an assignment clause exists with the creditor) is a contract of adhesion, broad based and not enforceable. It may not stop calls from bottom-feeders, but consumers should still file complaints. Your comments are welcome via my email.

March 22, 2011 at 12:03 pm
(5) Melissa says:

This law SHOULD APPLY to collection agencies that call an “unrelated third party” on the Do Not Call List who owes no one debt, & where it has been clearly established there is zero link to the sought person and to the company at hand. Yes, apparently some collection companies are routinely targeting innocent people who simply move to a new home; so these calls are not covered under collection exemptions. To clarify, myself & husband moved across town, but we’ve had our same phone number for almost 8 years. Oddly, we began getting calls for a man we’ve never heard of. Later we received a forward confirmation from the post office where the former resident (a renter I guess) finally forwarded his mail & we put everything together. The credit agency MUST have ran our new home’s address and found our private phone number; there is no other possibility as the man’s name was unusual. In fact when I questioned one employee she said they were calling quote “random numbers.” There is no reasonable care in this process to only call those that you have business with. Therefore, collections is evidently NOT the purpose of their calls. So what purpose is it, to solicit us to pay for someone else or whip up information we do not have, or just to simply harass us for fun? Either way, the phone should not ring. Yes, I have told them I am making a NCDOJ complaint and each time every person has said I will removed your number & then someone else calls back. They appear very scared, right! Searching for new property owners and finding their phone # is an abusive & outrageous collection practice so unequivocally they should not be shielded from the Do Not Call List Rules. We give these parasites too many chances; if were much more significant and licenses pulled for these actions – maybe decent people would not be openly harrassed & abused. Take all laws violated and make an example of these people!!

June 24, 2011 at 10:27 am
(6) Karen says:

Melissa you are correct. I came searching for advice for clients of mine who moved into a new home 6 months ago. They are being regularly annoyed by creditor and collection agency calls at their home on their personal telephones, pertaining to debts of the former property owners, with whom they have no relationship. The explanation given by the phone company is that this is a routine tactic used by creditors/collection agencies, who just search phone records tied to a physical address as opposed to the name of the debtor. I’ve advised my clients to make a note of the calls, call each back once and tell them they do not have a business or credit relationship with them and instruct them not to call again, and if they violate, report them to the FTC.

January 31, 2012 at 6:05 pm
(7) random says:

Send the collection agency a bill for answering calls from random strangers with whom you’ve never had a business relationship. They may not pay the bill, but it might stop the robocalls.

January 24, 2013 at 3:51 pm
(8) Christi says:

Everyone jumps to the conclusion that the people complaining actually have unpaid debt. I am getting numerous pre-recorded messages from debt collectors I am guessing because someone who previously had my telephone number owed a lot of debt. I believe this should be against the national do not tell policy. First of all, a real person is not even calling. It’ s just a message to call JC and Associates. Secondly, I’ve called them before and explained that the person they are looking for is no longer affiliated with my phone number. I still receive phone calls which wake my boyfriend up because he works the night shift.

May 16, 2013 at 4:22 pm
(9) Karen says:

Some debt collection agencies when you call them put your number on the do not call list. However too many agencies will call unlimited amount of times even at times that is harassing. They are abusive, threatening and act as if they are above the law. There is not accountability for debts being sold there is too much corruption and unfairness. There is not adequate support to audit, hold accountability and protection to those that they are abusing. Maybe some companies are respectfully but too many are carrying out actions that should not be allowed. Just because someone states there is a debt does not mean that is true. When there is more than 10 to 20 calls at all times of the day this should be deemed as criminal, abusive and harassing. Many number for elderly and disabled is for emergency not for collections agencies to harass, threaten and caused medical undue stress. When you are getting calls that is not your name because the cable company sold your number this should not be allowed. JUTICE!!!

September 4, 2013 at 10:38 am
(10) Nobody of Import says:

Karen, it actually IS against the law (several, actually…).

A third party “creditor” is one that you don’t have a formal relationship with. As “DNC does apply” rightly points out contracts of Adhesion are basically unenforceable. You can sell “debt”, but unless the debt is not in arrears, it’s deemed an exercise in debt collection turning the “primary” creditor into a third party. I’m about to hammer a major national bank over this because they bought a time-barred debt (As in outside of collections and report statute of limitations), added a couple of numbers to the front of the account and is claiming it’s a valid new debt, having filed a 1099 on the “forgiveness” of said debt.

I’m going to be hammering another “primary” creditor because I don’t have an established business relationship with them (Places them squarely back in the FDCPA territory- it’s not my debt…) wherein they’ve been calling me non-stop once or twice a day, five to six times a week. Not only do I get to zap them for the FDCPA violation, since they’re using a PBX and Smartphones, they’re also in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act to the tune of $500-1500 PER CALL so made. There’s about 250k or more in damages on the table at this point.

November 29, 2013 at 2:20 pm
(11) TM says:

Maybe if I signed a loan agreement, I consented to being contacted by the debtor. However, I receive dozens of debt collector calls from several collectors who say they are calling about person X, Y, Z whom I have never heard of. I get calls from the same agency calling about at least five different people, none of whom is or ever was associated with my number. These guys are not only calling the wrong number, they do it on purpose., They know they are calling the wrong number. They are picking random numbers to call, just as telemarketers do. I even suspect that they call me specifically because I am on the do not call list.

This is telephone harassment. What does the law say about this?

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