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1991 law used to stop harassing phone calls from creditors

Bank of America customers in New Jersey may be pleased to hear that the bank recently agreed to a $32 million settlement regarding "robocall" complaints from nearly 7.7 million of its mortgage and credit card customers. The 1991 Telephone Protection Act was passed to stop harassing phone calls from creditors and established the "do-not-call" registry. According to the act, creditors are not allowed to make collection calls to cell phones without a customer's express consent.

If approved by the court, this settlement may just be the largest derived from this law. Bank of America is not admitting any wrongdoing in connection with the settlement. According to a spokesperson for the bank, the decision to settle was based on avoiding further legal costs that would have been associated with taking the matter to trial.

Bank of America is by no means the first company in the United States to be accused of "robocalling," or automatically dialing its customers by the thousands. Since the majority of these calls are automated, they are made at all hours of the day and night and there is no live person to complain to when a call is answered. One woman involved in the litigation claims that even when she asked Bank of America to stop calling her cell phone, she was told it was not possible to remove that number from their system.

Last year, Sallie Mae settled a similar lawsuit for $24 million. The sad thing is that these are not the only companies that have been accused of being in violation of the act. Many New Jersey consumers are unaware that there is federal law to help stop harassing phone calls from creditors. Consumers who have been subjected to harassing phone calls may benefit from being advised of their rights regarding those phone calls.

Source: MSN Money, Bank of America in record settlement over 'robocall' complaints, No author, Sept. 30, 2013

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