(Washington, DC) Under the guise of modernization and providing consumers with more “information” the ACA, International – an association of debt collectors – has obtained Congressional support for a dangerous proposal that would allow debt collectors to flood cell phones with robo-calls.
The bill, HR 3035 Mobile Informational Call Act of 2011, was introduced on September 22, 2011 by Congressmen Lee Terry (R-NE), Edolphus Towns (D-NY), John Shimkus (R-IL) and Jim Matheson (D-UT). If HR 3035 is enacted, every day around the country consumer cell phones will be flooded with harassing and nuisance phone calls.
“HR 3035 is a bad idea and far from a modern approach. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which this bill seeks to modify, was Congress’ response to consumer “outrage over the proliferation of intrusive, nuisance calls to their homes from telemarketers and debt collectors. HR 3035 takes us a huge step back in time and seeks to plunge consumers back into daily deluges of phone calls from debt collectors” says Delicia Reynolds, Legislative Director of the National Association of Consumer Advocates.
HR 3035 will allow stores were people shop or companies that they do businesses with to use predictive dialers to send promotional advertisements to consumers’ cell phones, which will overwhelm consumer’s cell phones and shift the costs of these ads to consumers. To make matters worse, consumers will not even be able to opt-out of receiving these robo-calls because under the proposed legislation ‘any prior relationship’ with a business would qualify as consent for the purposes of receiving a so-called ‘informational phone call.’ Debt collectors already have sufficient access to consumers and still frequently violate the law by repeatedly making collection calls to consumer cellular phones using automatic dialing systems and leaving prerecorded voicemail messages, in violation of the law.”
“This is a terrible proposal,” said Reynolds, “consumers, struggling to make ends meet and keep their jobs, do not need this added burden and distraction. Nor do they need to use up scarce minutes on their cell phones. If passed, HR 3035 would open the floodgates for debt collection robo-calls and would also permit telemarketers to robo-dial any number that is not on the do-not-call list with impunity, as often as they want. Congress needs to act not and ensure this harmful proposal does not become law.
For more information on debt collection abuse and protections available to consumers, visit http://www.naca.net/issues/debt-collection-abuse. For more information contact Delicia Reynolds of the National Association of Consumer Advocates, 202-452-1989 ext 103, Delicia@naca.net.
 The FCC has made clear in a declaratory ruling that calls to consumers’ wireless phones for collection purposes violate the TCPA unless the phone number “was provided by the consumer to the creditor.” In the Matter of Rules and Regulations Implementing the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991, Request of ACA International for Clarification and Declaratory Ruling, 23 FCC Rec. 559, 564-65 (2008). The FCC also emphasized that pre-recorded calls could be particularly costly to cellular subscribers who pay for incoming calls. Id. at 562, 565.