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Debt Collectors and Other Organizations Claim They Need to Use Predictive Dialers to Contact your Cell Phone

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September 27, 2011

Debt Collectors and Other Organizations Claim They Need to Use Predictive Dialers to Contact your Cell Phone

By Jamie Epstein, TMCnet Web Editor

Have you ever been in the situation where after a long, hard day’s work you and your family finally sit down for dinner and your home phone rings? You pick it up and quickly realize it’s a debt collection agency letting you know that you are late on your bill. You slam the phone down, return to the table and regret ever answering the phone. Well, this occurrence could greatly increase if written proposals by the White House and Congress are passed which would allow debt collectors and other companies to harass you through your cell phone using predictive dialer technology.

recent article delved deep into the new proposals, revealing that supporters are alleging that current regulations have not kept up with new, emerging technology and have not taken into account the fact that most people no longer have traditional landlines, instead using their cell phones for all of their communication needs. Consumer advocates, however are afraid to allow telemarketers to contact cell phones because it could allow users to be bombarded with countless calls.

"You give them any opportunity to call cell phones, they not only will do what is allowed but what is not allowed," says Lauren Saunders, managing attorney for the National Consumer Law Center in a statement. "This is one of the most abusive industries in the country."

The Consumer advocates' concerns are validated in the fact that the Federal Trade Commission receives more complaints about debt collectors than any other industry, but a change in the law could potentially yield revamped debt-collection laws that would ensure cell phone users are not continuously harassed.

At this current time, debt collectors and other businesses are by law allowed to call cell phones if they manually dial the number, but a large number of businesses use automated dialing systems just as predictive dialers to get in touch with a large amount of people  in a short period of time. If a consumer opts-in however, a business can use a predictive dialer to contact them via their cell phones.

Howard Waltzman, a lawyer representing several business groups seeking to change the law commented that around 40 percent of consumers use a cell phone as their primary or only phone. That percentage is dramatically higher within the 20-30 age groups. Waltzman added, "You're talking about a generation of people who don't have a landline phone."

Waltzman said that groups such as the American Bankers Association and Air Transport Association want to update the law so companies will be able to complete calls to cell phones that would inform customers right away of crucial issues such as suspected fraud or even canceled flights.

He also noted that the proposed change would still ban telemarketers from calling cell phones and that consumers would still be able to select to opt out of calls, the article revealed. Consumer advocates feel that although this idea sounds ok, it could potentially enable telemarketers to gain access to making too many annoying calls to cell phones.

Jamie Epstein is a TMCnet Web Editor. Previously she interned at News 12 Long Island as a reporter's assistant. After working as an administrative assistant for a year, she joined TMC (News - Alert) as a Web editor for TMCnet. Jamie grew up on the North Shore of Long Island and holds a bachelor's degree in mass communication with a concentration in broadcasting from Five Towns College. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Juliana Kenny

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