All of the Attorneys General Voice Opposition to TCPA Reform

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A group of 54 U.S. state and territorial attorneys general Wednesday signed and delivered a letter to Congress expressing strong opposition to a bill that currently seeks to amend the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).

The bill — H.R. 3035, also called the Mobile Informational Call Act of 2011 — will modernize the TCPA by exempting informational calls to wireless phones from auto-dialer restrictions; clarify the “prior express consent” requirement; and continue the prohibition against the use of assistive technologies to call wireless numbers for telemarketing purposes.

Currently under the TCPA, callers cannot use autodialers to ring mobile numbers for any purpose.

The letter of opposition, which was signed by the attorney general of every state except Nebraska and Virginia, claims that calls to mobile phones placed by autodialers would increase charges for most users.

The AGs note that not all cell phone plans include unlimited minutes. And in the case of prepaid plans, users actively pay for minutes. The letter states that 25 percent of Americans will be on prepaid plans by the end of 2011.

Because H.R. 3035 specifically focuses on allowing auto-dialed debt collection calls to mobile phones, the letter takes several specific swipes at debt collectors. “H.R. 3035 proposes to shift the cost of debt collection to the consumers and, in particular, to those who can least afford to pay it,” the letter claims. The AGs also claim that by allowing debt collection calls, the bill would shift the cost to innocent parties, since many non-debtors may be unintentionally contacted in the course of collecting an account.

In addition to cost-shifting, the letter claims that H.R. 3035 poses a public safety threat. “Few can resist answering the ‘shrill and imperious ring’ of the wireless telephone while driving…More calls will likely mean more distracted drivers and, inevitably, more accidents,” the letter says.

In addition to the states’ attorneys general, the AGs of American Samoa, the District of Columbia, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands signed the letter.

H.R. 3035 was introduced in September and is currently before the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce. The bill has broad support in the business community with ARM industry groups joining a coalition that includes the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, American Bankers Association, Community Bankers Association, Mortgage Bankers Association, Air Transport Association, and many others.

Continuing the Discussion

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  • avatar Debt Guy says:

    Allowing calls to cell phones will shift the cost of collections to consumers…? That’s some poor wording. It could potentially create an additional cost but there would be no “shifting” going on. Get it right you friggin’ haters.

  • avatar Marc Johnston says:

    Pure and absolute politcal garbage! Shifting the cost to consumers? Please! Concern about additional traffic accidents because a debt collector rings the phone? What about when their spouse rings the phone? Probably more likely to get in a crash over that. 25% of people will be on pre-paid cell plans by end of 2011? I wonder how many regular cell phone companies they have defaulted on prior to making a pre-paid their phone of choice.

  • avatar Joe Potter says:

    Yet another example of how American protects debtors
    from easily the largest debtor on the planet… The
    U.S and every state government with in it.
    If change to the laws an regulations that govern
    the collection of promises American people make to
    the business world are not modernized, we will see
    the greatest country on Earth go bankrupt along with
    every business and most Americans in the 99%.
    Shame on you Attorney Generals.

  • avatar FriendoftheCourt says:

    Public policy is not on the side of the collector on this one.

    If the AGs oppose, then it’s a pretty clear indication as to how fairly dispassionate observers tend to view the issue.

  • avatar Newport Queen says:

    So let me get this straight. If the act passes & I call the consumer and they can not control their inability to wait to pick check their phone until they are no longer driving, that consumer may sue me for causing an accident if one occurs? I know I am over reading here, but I guarantee there are some shark consumer attorney’s out there just waiting to pounce.

  • avatar LindaP says:

    It’s already illegal to use an auto dialer to call a cell phone in Virginia.

  • avatar Nonna166 says:

    How can you say shift the cost of collecting a consumers debt to the consumer? If your same consumer had taken care of their debt prior to being called by an auto dialer, he/she would not have to incur any additional costs at all on the debt, if they had simply taken care of their responsibilities. Its no different than paying your mortgage or car loan after your due date and “incurring” late fees. We need to stop catering to the needs & wants of a consumer, and hold them accountable for the debt they build up with no feeling of obligation to pay it. I believe that the US Congress and its Representatives also keep in mind of the debt they run up on the American Taxpayers…as that is why the consumer, they are trying so hard to protect, feels like they can abuse the phrase, “I can’t afford to pay my bills” because then I would not be able to take 3 vacations a year and drive a Lexus, or live in a house I can’t afford. In other words teach them a new phrase, “Live within my means”!

  • avatar bmoore says:

    At the first congressional hearing on the bill, the AG from Indiana took issue with the preemption of more restrictive state laws. One of the sponsors suggested that he’d be willing to review that language before deciding on the final language for the bill. Losing preemption would not be ideal, but if that’s required to get rest of the bill passed, so be it.

    If you support the bill, as I expect most InsideARM’ers do, write, call or visit your congressional representatives. Here’s what I told mine when I went to DC as part of the ACA’s fly-in: http://bit.ly/sSD0hz

  • avatar Rick Fink says:

    @Nonna166

    As someone who has been called repeatedly by various collectors because someone else with my name defaulted on a debt I’m dead against this bill and agree with the AGs.

    I’m tired of the excuses I’ve heard for them calling the wrong person. They need to get their act together.

  • avatar Chuck says:

    I have to agree with Rick Fink. When I first received my current mobile number, I received numerous calls for someone else. I had to keep telling them I didn’t know the guy and remove my number. Why should my mobile minutes be consumed because someone else didn’t pay their bills (including cell phone) and the number was reassigned?

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