The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act does not specifically address text messages, email, and other modern forms of communication, however, that doesn’t necessarily mean debt collectors can contact consumers via these modes of communication. Fortunately, there are steps to stop the receipt of text messages when consumers wish to cease these communications.
The Outdated FDCPA
The FDCPA was written in 1977 and has not been updated to include modern forms of communication including text messages and email. However, these forms of communication are covered under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act which was passed in 1991 which prohibits debt collectors and others from contacting consumers without first receiving their express consent. In most cases, debt collectors consider the initial application with a phone number listed as giving consent.
The courts have sided with debt collectors in this regard, however, consumers who receive messages from debt collectors can respond with a simple “stop.” Once this is done, the consent is revoked and the debt collector is no longer legally allowed to contact the consumer via text message.
Consumer Rights and Text Messages
As with other forms of communication including phone calls and letters, debt collectors are prohibited from contacting consumers before 8 am and after 9 pm. The messages must also clearly identify the sender and the purpose of the contact. Similarly, they cannot spam consumers with repeated messages, nor may they contact the consumer after the consumer notifies them that they have an attorney. Debt collectors are also prohibited from using profanity or threats, and, unless the individual is a cosigner on a loan, they may not contact friends, family, or an individual’s employer about the consumer’s debts. These actions are considered FDCPA violations and debt collectors who commit these offenses can be liable for fines and civil penalties.
Consumers can file complaints with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as well as with their state Attorney General’s office. These complaints should be accompanied with documentation that identifies the actions taken by the debt collector and the FDCPA violations they are guilty of committing. An attorney in Nevada can help file these complaints on behalf of the consumer and help pursue compensation to recover damages stemming from harassment, etc.