Potential TCPA Exemption When Collecting upon a Federal Debt


The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is considering a new Telephone Consumer Protection Act/TCPA exemption for robocalls made to collect upon federal debts. If you are receiving harassing and abusive robocalls on federal debts such as student loan debts or an SBA loan, contact the consumer attorneys at Maginnis Law, PLLC.

Currently, collection calls or text messages made to a cellular telephone using an automatic telephone dialing system or prerecorded voice message or computer-generated voice were prohibited by the TCPA absent prior express consent. For debt collection telephone calls or text messages made to a residential line using artificial or prerecorded voice, the TCPA also required the debt collector or collection agency to have obtained prior express consent.

The new TCPA exemption will remove the TCPA’s requirement for the debt collector or collection agency to have prior express consent for telephone calls or text messages to cellular or residential telephone numbers if made “solely pursuant to the collection of a debt owed to or guaranteed by the United States.”

While advocates of the amendment claim this will help consumers avoid defaulting on loans, others are concerned it does not do enough to shield consumers from unwanted harassing robocalls. According to the FCC, the TCPA exemption will only allow robocalls using an automatic telephone dialing system, prerecorded voice, or artificial voice to be used:

  • When the consumer is delinquent on making payments on a federal debt;
  • Only to the debtor and not to the debtor’s relatives, friends, or other acquaintances;
  • A maximum of three times per month per delinquent debt; and
  • Only until the consumer requests a federal creditor to stop calling and to require callers to inform consumers of their right to stop calls.

For each violation of the TCPA, a consumer is entitled to a minimum of $500.00.  When the violation was knowing and willful, the statutory damages can be increased to an amount between $500.00 and $1,500.00.  If you have been contacted in violation of the TCPA, contact the TCPA attorneys of Maginnis Law. TCPA attorney Karl S. Gwaltney can be contacted at 919.960.1545, kgwaltney@maginnislaw.com, or through our confidential contact page.