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Government Spam Technology

Debt Collectors Sneaking Robocall Exemptions Into Budget Bill 216

TCPALaw writes: Hate robocalls? In July, the FCC tightened the rules regarding robocalls to cell phones, especially debt collection calls (in particular limiting calls to wrong numbers or to anyone who is not the debtor). Now the debt collection industry is getting their revenge by sneaking in a massive exemption (see section 301 on page 10 to the PDF) to the the FCC's rules that would expressly permit debt collection robocalls to cell phones (and even collect calls!) for student loans, mortgages, taxes, and any other debt owed or guaranteed by the government. Time to make a few phone calls myself to some senators. The Senate switchboard is (202) 224-3121 or go to senate.gov to find the number for your senators. This may come up for a vote in 24 hours or less.
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Debt Collectors Sneaking Robocall Exemptions Into Budget Bill

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  • That's OK. ARSONBOT technology is improving by leaps and bounds.
  • by kheldan ( 1460303 ) on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @12:04PM (#50817611) Homepage Journal
    Just don't answer your phone for any number that you don't recognize; if it's really important they'll leave a voicemail message. Debt collectors and scumbags don't leave messages, typically; there, problem solved.
    • by Skater ( 41976 ) on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @12:16PM (#50817749) Homepage Journal
      Yes, they do. We get a message at least weekly for the former residents of our house, trying to collect various debts. Note, I've lived there over 9 years and we still get those calls. It's basically harassment, but there isn't much I can do because it's a bunch of different debt collectors, rather than just one company.
      • *shrug* change your phone number, then, and make sure it's unlisted.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Yes you can do something. Just start invoicing them for your time. If they pay, fine. If they don't, sell the debt to another debt collector.

        • by VAXcat ( 674775 )
          Unless you are the person they are looking for, they won't tell you who they are or where they are, so you can't bill for your time, or report them to anyone.
      • You could, I dunno, change your number or ditch the land line altogether,,,

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act allows statutory damages. Follow the rules, sue them in small claims, and then collect when they either default or the attorney settles as it is more of a hassle to show up. Collecting can be fun in its own way as well. I helped a guy who had the collectors dodge him for weeks, so we showed up at the office with a truck and started taking office furniture and anything else we could find.

        • by creimer ( 824291 ) on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @01:00PM (#50818181) Homepage
          Someone did that to a local bank. Won a default judgment, called the sheriff department and news media, and shut down the branch office for a day. Under the law, he was entitled to the cash in the drawers and anything else he could carried out to satisfy the debt. The bank quickly settled as the one day closure and bad publicity cost them too much..
          • Yes that bank was located in Palm Beach Florida. The bank ignored a summary judgement from the court and the individual showed up with the Sheriffs office in tow. All of a sudden the bank was able to pay the money that they claimed they could not pay that same day. The sheriff gave the bank one hour to either pay or turn over the keys to the bank to the lady. They were not going to allow the bank to move the cash or anything else out of that bank. The lady was owed a small sum due to a bank error
      • It's basically harassment, but there isn't much I can do because it's a bunch of different debt collectors, rather than just one company.

        What happens is a debt collector tries to collect from you. When they can't, they sell the debt to another debt collector, and the cycle repeats.

        My dad got a debt collection letter (Verizon credited his payment to his old account, decided his new account was overdue and sold it to a debt collector without ever calling him). I drafted a letter explaining the Verizon s

        • by creimer ( 824291 )
          I had that problem when I filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy. A credit card debt got sold three times in as many months. Each time I called up the collection agency, informed the agent that I was filing for bankruptcy and asked him to check the file notation. The first two ceased collecting, but the third one got nasty. A letter from my attorney sent them packing.
      • by dj245 ( 732906 ) on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @05:49PM (#50820633) Homepage

        Yes, they do. We get a message at least weekly for the former residents of our house, trying to collect various debts. Note, I've lived there over 9 years and we still get those calls. It's basically harassment, but there isn't much I can do because it's a bunch of different debt collectors, rather than just one company.

        You can prepare a standard form letter and send it to every debt collector which calls. You can use this one-

        I am writing in response to your letter or phone call dated (DATE). I do not believe that I owe this debt or what you say I owe.

        Pursuant to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Section 809(b), Validating Debts:
        “If the consumer notifies the debt collector in writing within the thirty-day period described in subsection (a) that the debt, or any portion thereof, is disputed, or that the consumer requests the name and address of the original creditor, the debt collector shall cease collection of the debt, or any disputed portion thereof, until the debt collector obtains verification of the debt or any copy of a judgment, or the name and address of the original creditor, and a copy of such verification or judgment, or name and address of the original creditor, is mailed to the consumer by the debt collector.”

        I respectfully request that you provide me with the following:
        1. The amount of the debt;
        2. The name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed;
        3. Verification or copy of any judgment (if applicable);
        4. Proof that you are licensed to collect debts in the state of [STATE] 5. Proof of the last payment made on the account.

        I am asserting my rights under the federal and state Fair Debt Collection Practices Acts and the Fair Credit Reporting Act, including these rights:
        Because I have disputed this debt in writing within 30 days of receipt of your initial notice, you must obtain verification of the debt or a copy of the judgment against me and mail these items to me at your expense.
        You cannot add interest or fees except those allowed by the original contract or state law.
        Any attempt to collect this debt without validating it violates the FDCPA.

        Also be advised that I am keeping accurate records of all correspondence from you and your company, including recording all phone calls, and I will not hesitate to report violations of the law to my State Attorney General, the Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau.

        I have disputed this debt. Therefore, until it is validated, your information concerning this debt is assumed to be inaccurate. Accordingly, if you have already reported this debt to any credit-reporting agency (CRA) or Credit Bureau (CB), then you must immediately inform them of my dispute with this debt. Reporting information that you know to be inaccurate or failing to report information correctly violates the Fair Credit Reporting Act 1681s-2. Should you pursue a judgment without validating this debt, I will inform the judge and request that the case be dismissed based on your failure to comply with the FDCPA.

        Finally, if you do not own this debt, I demand that you immediately send a copy of this dispute letter to the original creditor so they are also aware that I dispute the debt.

        Sincerely,
        [Your Name]

        If they contact you again after receiving such a letter, even once, you can sue them. Up to $1000 per incident. Plus they would have to pay big fines $50-100k to the government as well. It's enough of a deterrent that I have never been contacted again after sending such a letter.

    • The phone still rings, and you need to stop what you are doing and check it. With robocalls, they just don't stop either. They call day after day after day because it doesn't cost anything. So message or no (and they do leave messages) they'll just keep bothering you for years.

      I had that problem with a home phone line that I had to ditch. The number it was assigned belonged to someone who had skipped on medical bills. Well these retarded collectors would just NOT get the message that I wasn't the person and

      • I didn't think that debt collectors could call businesses for personal debts.
        • I don't know if they are supposed to, but they do. It was annoying. The last of them finally quit a couple of years ago after getting a little threateny and my then saying I was going to get the general council on the line. Went on for years though.

      • Get a VOIP service that supports NoMoRobo. I pay $169 for two years unlimited service. I turned on NoMoRobo and it blocks telemarketers, debt collectors, surveys and political calls. I LOVE it! The phone rings about half a ring and then when callerID hits, they pick up and announce that my line is protected by NoMoRobo and they cannot reach my number. I don't even bother to move unless my phone starts to ring a second time.

        It is a rare occasion when I get a nuisance call these days,
        • We are a phone company, as in we have a 5ESS that serves our 3 prefixes. As such, I don't control the phone system and get to choose what we do.

          This is not uncommon for people who work for companies: Most don't have you get your own phone service, you use what is provided.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by BitZtream ( 692029 )

      Or we can hang the debt collectors and the congressmen that allow this suit to happen from a tree.

      99 times out of 100, these last people are a waste of valuable food and oxygen anyway.

      Ignoring them is exactly the wrong thing to do, they keep doing it because we fucking let them.

      STOP FUCKING LETTING THEM. STOP TURNING THE OTHER CHEEK.

    • Just don't answer your phone for any number that you don't recognize; if it's really important they'll leave a voicemail message. Debt collectors and scumbags don't leave messages, typically; there, problem solved.

      How is that problem solved? You're still interrupted. You've still changed your phone habits to a whitelist - so will miss any calls, potentially important or emergency ones. (And then you have to check that voicemail, again inconveniencing you). You have to change your behaviour to out-of-the-ordinary to avoid dodgy new business practises.

      • You've still changed your phone habits to a whitelist - so will miss any calls, potentially important or emergency ones.

        What are you talking about? If it's important or an emergency then they'd damned well better leave a message, or it's obviously not important. If it's someone you know and it's important or an emergency, then they're being somewhere between rude and violently stupid if they're not leaving a message, and if it's someone you know and they're not in the phonebook on your phone (so the number shows up as their name) then you're not being very smart, either. So which is it? Also again as previously stated, if it's something important or an emergency call from someone you don't know, they'll leave a message, or it's obviously not important. Also if glancing at your phone when it rings and not reaching over to hit 'answer' is such an inconvenience for you then again I'd have to wonder about you. Sorry if the world isn't all hearts and unicorns, Sunshine, and it all doesn't always go your way, but just like trolls on the Internet the best tactic to handle these types is usually just to ignore them, they'll eventually stop using their own resources to harass you and go look for lower-hanging fruit somewhere else (i.e. someone not smart enough to ignore harassing phone calls).

    • I've had a saying since my first cell phone. "If my phone doesn't know you, I probably don't want to talk to you." So if your not in my phone book my chances of answer are none. If its really important to you, leave a voice mail and I"ll call you back if it's important to me. This policy has served me well for over 10 years.

      About debit collectors. They can't leave voice mail. There is a chance that some one else will over hear it, which I believe is now illegal.

      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        Sure, because debt collectors are so well known for not skirting on the ragged edge of illegality.

    • As long as you never have an emergency or something like that, that requires someone to reach out to you.

    • Or get a Google Voice number as your main number and turn on call screening.

      They only have a couple of seconds to leave their names and that's it.

  • by bmo ( 77928 ) on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @12:05PM (#50817629)

    Request unable to be completed.

    The submitted https request was not able to be completed at this time.
    Please retry your request using http. This may require disabling some browser based plug-ins.

    http://www.senate.gov/ [senate.gov]

    Of course...

    --
    BMO

    • by Qzukk ( 229616 )

      I blame lazy government employees at the NSA. How else are they supposed to figure out which Americans have an "unhealthy" interest in certain laws? Break SSL encryption? Or just ask the senate.gov webmaster to refuse SSL connections?

    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      Your IP address is not on the whitelist of campaign contributors.

  • by creimer ( 824291 ) on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @12:24PM (#50817803) Homepage
    After I was out of work for two years (2009-2010), and preparing to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2011, a debt collector got nasty by ignoring my letter not to call and kept calling me. So I decided to play hardball. I kept hitting redial to tie up his phone line until he agreed to talk to me. After ten hang ups in five minutes, he finally gave in and stopped calling me.
  • FTFA:

    unless such call is made solely to collect a debt owed to or guaranteed by the United States

    This amendment only effects collection of debts owed to the US Government. Normal credit card, car loans, etc don't get the exemption.

    Bottom line is: If you are having trouble paying back a loan, talk to the lender. The absolute worst thing to do is trying to avoid them.

    • I've gotten a lot of debt collection calls, at work and at home. Thing is, they've never been for me. I have never defaulted on any debt in my life. Yet these people would call and call trying to get a hold of someone else. Telling them "That's not me, you have the wrong number," didn't work.

      So what is the solution?

      • by PPH ( 736903 )

        You do know that many deadbeats, when asked to please put their phone number on a check or provide one on a loan application, just put down someone else's.

      • Try this. When called, read the line:

        "Hello. Thank you for calling. For quality assurance reasons this call may be recorded and published. Please state clearly "I agree" that you agree to this"

        Unless they say "I agree" (they won't), say "I am sorry, I may not continue this call unless you agree. For quality assurance reasons this call..."

        Repeat as needed 'til they hang up.

    • No, not only for debt owed to the US Government but also guaranteed by the US Government

      - Private Student Loans
      - VA Guaranteed Mortgages
      - SMB loans
      - FEMA guaranteed loans
      - ETC. ETC. ETC.

  • and any other debt owed or guaranteed by the government

    Very simple solution — get the government out of the loans-business altogether. Why it got there in the first place is, sort of, a mystery...

    • Banks have made billions in profits off it, so why shouldn't the government try it?

      Stop letting people weasel out of their debts and we might be able to repeal the income tax on the profits from the loan business...

      • by mi ( 197448 )

        Banks have made billions in profits off it, so why shouldn't the government try it?

        Pizzerias have made billions selling pizzas, why shouldn't the government go into baking?

        For the same reasons, you don't put Seti@Home into kernel.

      • by PPH ( 736903 )

        so why shouldn't the government try it?

        Conflict of interest.

        The government is there to be the final insurer against credit defaults just so the banks can run a zero risk business. Getting into the actual banking business* would create an entity that would have to balance default risk against loan profits. So they would be motivated to attract lower risk lending customers by offering better terms.

        *The next time a bank like Washington Mutual fails, have the Federal Reserve take it over. Then just swap the WaMu signs on the branches with FedReser

  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @12:59PM (#50818167) Homepage Journal

    I think Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey have already got the memo, seeing as they were the ones that originally sent it. [senate.gov]

  • The problem when unemployed is that you need to monitor your phone for job-related calls, so you have to keep the ringer on.

    Also, my particular cell phone makes it really difficult to blacklist numbers.

    I seem to recall that the rules state that if you send them a note by snail mail, they are required to stop contacting you by phone.

    Recently I was late on paying a Chase card, and I literally got called every single day about the matter. Eventually I called up and said, hey, I'm unemployed, I'm waiting on a

    • Recently I was late on paying a Chase card, and I literally got called every single day about the matter. Eventually I called up and said, hey, I'm unemployed, I'm waiting on a check to arrive, and the rep explained that they will be robodialing my phone every single day until it is paid.

      Damn, I wish every bank and credit card company did this. Heck, I think there should be a law requiring them to do this.

      I knew I had put a $10 charge on my BofA credit card (my lone annual charge to prevent them from c

  • What I don't understand about all this bad debt is that most of it seems self-inflicted by the lender.

    If they don't do adequate credit checks and issue credit to people who can't repay the loans, aren't they kind of likely to end up with bad debt?

    I'm sure their argument is "But we wouldn't sell as many widgets if we didn't offer easy credit". Which is logic I don't undertstand -- how do you make money on widgets if you give them away and don't get repaid?

    It almost seems like there's some kind of accounting

  • It's Federally guaranteed loans, I know I'd like the Government to get back the tax dollars that someone is trying to steal. And if that means allowing a debt collector to contact you via phone - so be it. If you're welching on a debt backed by the Federal Government, then you're not "stealing from the man", you're stealing from all your fellow taxpayers.
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @03:38PM (#50819571)

    Once I invent a device that allows you to kill people via the phone.

  • "This may come up for a vote in 24 hours or less."

    Ironically, there are two groups of people that come to mind who regularly force these kinds of demands on innocent citizens.

    Lawmakers and Terrorists.

    It's rather strange people don't mind being threatened by the very person they elected to represent them.

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