05 Oct Obama 2011 Jobs Bill Authorizes Collection “Robo Calls” to Your Cell Phone
The Associated Press reports that the Obama Administration wants to legalize the use of “robo calls” – auto dialers and recorded messages – to cell phones by debt collectors seeking to recover student loans and other debts owed to the federal government.
Under a proposal included at page 28 of the president’s September, 2011 Jobs bill, federal employees and private debt collectors working on behalf of the federal government would be empowered to call a debtor’s cell phone without first obtaining permission and without regard to any “do not call” list.
The National Consumer Law Center, a consumer advocacy group, has issued a press release condemning this proposal. According to attorney Margot Saunders of the NCLC,
Giving one of the most abusive industries in the U.S. free rein to inundate people with robo-calls to their cell phones is a terrible idea. Cell phone calls can distract people while driving, interrupt them at their jobs and needlessly impose a cost on struggling familiies by using up scarce minutes. Debt collectors regularly call land lines to harass and threaten friends, family and even strangers with similar names ot the debtor. No one will be safe from receiving abusive calls on their cell phones if this proposal goes through.
Collection industry advocates claim that robo-call access to cell phones is necessary because so many debtors have given up land lines in favor of cell phones. Under current federal law, bill collectors cannot use auto dialers or recorded messages when calling cell phones absent prior authorization from the debtor. Auto dialer technology allows bill collectors to generate substantially more calls per hour and because auto-dialed lines often do not release immediately, can tie up a debtor’s line or use up costly cell minutes.
by Jonathan Ginsberg, Georgia bankruptcy lawyer
Jonathan Ginsberg, Esq.
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