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Congress weighs bill to stop abusive debt collection calls

On Behalf of | Mar 16, 2017 | Consumer Protection

In recent days, there have been lawsuits filed by consumers seeking to protect themselves from robocalling. Now legislation has been reintroduced in the U.S. Congress to cut robocalling down even more.

The bill is called Help Americans Never Get Unwanted Phone Calls Act. The acronym for the legislation is HANGUP. It seeks to repeal the 2015 budget agreement that allowed debt collectors to use robocalls to go after cell phone owners. HANGUP would shut down some of the loopholes debt collectors have been using to go after people.

Lawmakers point to two groups in particular who have found ways to get around the law: government contractors and federal debt collectors. Consumers have been dismayed to learn that these groups have exemptions to the 1991 Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

That law required robocallers to give recipients of the calls an option to opt-out of receiving more calls. Some debt collectors (mortgage companies and hospitals, for instance) are allowed to call until debts are settled.

Some of the many problems with the law are that credit records are not always quickly or accurately updated, which can mean that consumers continue to get debt collection calls even after accounts have been settled.

Many consumer advocates believe that government agencies in pursuit of payments should be held to the very same standards that private debt collectors are held.

“If independent and private businesses are not allowed to harass consumers with unwanted robocalls and texts, government and government contractors should be held to that same standard,” one of the bill’s sponsors said.

Philadelphia residents who are victims of abusive debt collection practices can contact an experienced consumer rights attorney to stop the harassment.

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