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Robo-calls to your cell phone may be illegal

The robo-call: you’d recognize it by the slight pause before the person on the other end starts talking. What you might not know is that these phone calls may be illegal.

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 outlaws certain phone calls made to cell phones. When a company uses an autodialer (a machine that randomly dials numbers–or a list of phone numbers entered into the machine) it is not allowed to call a cell phone unless it has consent from the consumer.

Debt collectors get around this law in a couple of ways. When you filled out your original credit application, you wrote down a contact phone number. If you wrote down only one contact number, and it was your cell phone, the collector may assume you’re giving consent to call that number. The other way they avoid the law is that the original credit application may say something like:" by signing this application, you give us consent to call your cell phone." But this is rare for older accounts.

If the debt collector robo-calls your cell phone without consent, it may be a violation of the TCPA, and you may be entitled to $500 damages per call. Damages can be tripled if you can show that the phone calls were made willfully or knowingly.

If you’re getting autodialed calls to your cell phone, consult a consumer attorney.

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