When one is in debt, it can feel like collectors are everywhere — and these days they just may be. Consumers are accustomed to receiving call after call from collections agency, but more recently demands for payment are coming through on a different medium: text messages. While a text message from a friend is often a welcome occurrence due to the ease of communication, receiving these messages from a business is usually perceived as a burden, especially when that business is seeking out a hefty payment.
If one is being harassed by debt collectors through text messages, a Miami debt defense attorney can ensure his or her rights are protected. However, he or she may be unclear on what constitutes harassment, and whether or not the practice is legal at all.
The Legality of This Practice
Aside from being irritating, the act of texting by debtors may not be entirely legal. While the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the federal legislation that governs debt collections, does not directly address the issue (as text messaging did not exist when it was drafted), the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 is applicable for these cases. The law protects consumers from invasive collections practices over the phone. However, when one has listed a cell phone number on the application to obtain the funds for which debt is attempting to be collected on, some courts may view it as constituting consent to collections text messages.
To date, there is still quite a bit of gray are where this practice is concerned. That said, the same rules apply to collectors contacting debtors via text message as those doing so over the phone. This means that the collections agent must abide by the following:
- Must identify themselves as a collector
- Must make contact only between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. in the debtor’s local time
- Must ensure they are communicating with the debtor and not a third-part
- Must obtain from harassing behaviors (sending text messages frequently, using obscene language, making threats)
- Must not contact a debtor who has obtained legal representation
- Must halt communications if the debtor issues a written letter that he or she no longer wishes to receive the text messages
If a debt collector has infringed upon your rights as a consumer, whether through text message or otherwise, our office is just a call away. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with a skilled Miami debt defense attorney who can advise you on your unique situation.