March 5, 2018
***National Consumer Protection Week Consumer Alert***
Carson City, NV – Today, Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt advises consumers to be aware of conduct that constitutes illegal debt collection practices. With the availability of contact information on the Internet, debt collectors can conveniently contact consumers using automatic telephone dialing systems that repeat artificial or prerecorded voice messages. These types of calls are known as “robocalling.” Robocalling has made it easier for debt collectors to employ abusive debt collection tactics.
In general, debt collectors who use robocalling must abide by laws that apply to both debt collection and telephone consumer protection. This means that debt collectors, even when placing robocalls, are prohibited from engaging in conduct that harasses, oppresses or abuses any person in connection with the collection of a debt. A debt collector, whether live or through an automated system, is not allowed to repeatedly call a consumer with the intent to annoy, abuse or harass any person at the called number. However, a debt collector who uses an automated system can repeatedly robocall an individual with ease and without significant cost. The ability for debt collectors to exploit technology in this manner makes it crucial for Nevada consumers to be aware of their rights when contacted by a debt collector.
“While technology provides tremendous benefits for society, it can also create additional opportunities for bad actors to harass and abuse consumers, especially in the area of debt collection,” said Laxalt. “Nevadans should be aware of what constitutes lawful debt collection behavior when a debt collector uses robocalling to collect a debt.”
Additional conduct requirements generally necessitate debt collectors to “meaningfully” disclose their identities to consumers. For debt collectors who robocall, the artificial or prerecorded messages must state the identity of the business, individual or other entity initiating the call, as well as provide a telephone number and address. Additionally, debt collectors can never threaten violence, use profane language, or threaten to sell a debt in an effort to coerce the payment of a debt through a robocall or a live person.
Nevada’s consumers should also be aware that the following debt collection conduct is illegal, regardless of whether the call is conducted by a live person or robocall:
- Falsely representing the character, amount, or legal status of any debt.
- Misrepresenting the true name of the debt collector's business, company or organization.
- Contacting the consumer after 8:00 p.m. or before 9:00 a.m. at the consumer’s location without prior consent.
If a consumer is being contacted by a live person, robocall, or in writing by a debt collector and wishes the debt collector to stop, the consumer can notify the debt collector in writing that he or she desires the debt collector to cease further communication. With minor exceptions, the debt collector is required to honor the request to not communicate.
For more information about debt collection, visit the FTC’s website here. For more information about robocalls, visit the FTC’s website here.