The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) ruled this week in favor of a consumer who sued Target, alleging that it harassed her with robocalls.
The plaintiff applied for a Target credit card, and subsequently got behind in payments. Starting in January 2015, Target contacted the debtor in an attempt to collect the debt. According to the consumer, Target called her up to six times a week, and Target admitted to calling her five times a week.
Target argued that because it called the debtor with an automatic dialing service and did not leave a message, that it did not “initiate” a call with the debtor. According to the Court, “Target is…overlooking the purpose of the regulation…A creditor can ‘harass, oppress, or abuse’ a debtor with its telephone practices by calling incessantly, even if it does not leave voicemail messages…”
Target argued that it could not leave the debtor a message as that would have violated state and federal regulations. The Court stated that Target could have complied with the regulations had it left a message without identifying itself and asked that she call back, without saying it was to collect a debt.
The case, Debra Armata v. Target Corp, provides guidance to debt collectors using robocalls and automated technology.