Consumer Bankruptcy Journal Fall 2015 - Page 35

USING FEDERAL CONSUMER STATUTES communicate with a consumer on a landline phone. However, the TCPA prohibits debt collectors from robo-calling and/or using prerecorded/artificial voice messages in communications to a consumer’s cell-phone. Despite the avalanche of lobbying efforts by the banking and debt collection industry, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently affirmed its prior orders holding that where a consumer never consented to being contacted on his cell phone (i.e. provided his cell number to the original creditor) or after a consumer revokes consent to being contacted on a cell phone, the creditor/collector must stop robo-dialing that cell phone. The statutory damages for violating the TCPA are $500 per call and may be trebled after determination that the creditor/collector made the calls “knowingly and willfully.” Many times consumers believe that bankruptcy is the only way to resolve the stress associated with debt collection harassment and illegal conduct and so they go to see a bankruptcy lawyer. A bankruptcy lawyer can easily determine whether consumers are being harassed, abused, or unlawfully treated. The FDCPA and TCPA provide remedies to help extinguish the consumer’s debt and avoid bankruptcy altogether. Alternately, where the consumer owes too much debt or has too many creditors, FDCPA and TCPA settlements may be used to pay for bankruptcy legal fees and costs, paying down Chapter 13 – reorganization base plans and obtaining an earlier discharge for the consumer debtor. Bankruptcy practitioners and bankruptcy trustees should be on the lookout for these types of National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys Winter 2015 violations as the settlements from these consumer violations can benefit both them and their clients. Rex C. Anderson – 1992 - Present – Principle of Rex Anderson PC, Davison, MI – practicing exclusively in Fair Debt Collection Practice Act (FDCPA), Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), State Consumer Law, Injury Litigation and Consumer Bankruptcy litigation. Memberships include Council Member of Michigan Consumer Law Section, National Association of Consumer Advocates (NACA), Michigan Association for Justice (MAJ), National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACBA), Flint Bay-City Bankruptcy Bar Association (FBBA), Lapeer and Genesee County and Michigan State Bar Associations. Email: CONSUMER BANKRUPTCY JOURNAL 35