by Bill Snyder

Robocall Hell: Debt Collectors and Marketers Want Your Cell Number

Nov 14, 20113 mins
MobileSmall and Medium Business

A bill sneaking through Congress would make it easier for bottom-feeding businesses to make robocalls to your cell phone. Don't let them.

I know you all love to get robocalls from politicians seeking your vote and marketers seeking your dollars. After all, what’s nicer than talking to a friendly stranger who has interrupted your dinner?  Don’t you wish that those pesky regulations that make it illegal to robocall you’re cell phone would go away?  Sure you do. So you’ll be glad to know that a bill being pushed through Congress would make a lot easier for corporations to robocall your cell phone.

Sarcasm aside, automated calls to a cell phone are obnoxious for a variety of reasons: They use up your minutes, interrupt you with useless information and invade your privacy.

Who’s behind the proposed law? Not surprisingly, it’s being pushed by corporate interests like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Bankers Association, and a coalition of debt collectors who are trying to sneak this bill through under the radar. It’s already had a hearing in Congress, but it’s not yet a done deal.

Here’s how the lobbyists justified it: “Businesses increasingly rely on advanced communications technologies to convey timely and important information to consumers. These calls notify consumers about threats such as data breaches and fraud alerts, provide timely notice of flight and service appointment cancellations and drug recalls, and protect consumers against the adverse consequences of failure to make timely payments on an account.”

That’s nonsense. Consumers can already choose to receive robocalls from an airline, a school district or anyone else that asks in advance. The only people who really need the law to change are bill collectors and bottom-feeding marketers disguising their message as “informational.”

Current law already forbids marketers from making robocalls to landlines, but I get them all the time and claiming that only “informational” calls will be allowed, as the lobbyists say, is disingenuous to say the least.

Those calls are  annoying enough, but calls from bill collectors could be much, much worse. Indeed, in October, the Federal Trade Commission obtained a court order against a debt collector that had “called consumers and their employers, family, friends, and neighbors, posing as process servers seeking to deliver legal papers that purportedly related to a lawsuit.  In some instances, the defendants threatened that consumers would be arrested if they did not respond to the calls.”

In September, the FTC obtained a court order against another debt collector. What was he doing? Oh only threatening “death to the [consumers] and their pets, threatening to desecrate the bodies of deceased relatives, and using obscene and profane language,” among other (alleged violations).

I just signed a petition to kill the bill. Since it is being circulated by a political group, I won’t put a link in this post, but it’s not to hard to find if you Google it. Or, simply send a letter to your Congressional representative.