Is the debt collector calling you violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act? Check your time zone!

time zone

When Amanda Vinson received a debt collection call at her home on December 7, 2011, her clock read “9:39 p.m.” and  she was sure that the debt collector, Credit Control Services, was in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practice Act (FDCPA).  Ms. Vinson acted accordingly and filed suit against Credit Control Services alleging a violation of FDCPA.   Under 15 U.S.C. §1692c(a)(1) debt collector may not communicate with a consumer: at any unusual time or place or a time or place known or which should be known to be inconvenient to the consumer. In the absence of knowledge of circumstances to the contrary, a debt collector shall assume that the convenient time for communicating with a consumer is after 8 o’clock antemeridian and before 9 o’clock postmeridian, local time at the consumer’s location.  Then, a funny thing happened.  While Ms. Vinson lives in Alabama, which is located in the Central time zone (CST), her hometown of Valley, Alabama actually adheres to Eastern Standard Time (EST).

On December 11, 2012, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the District of Massachusetts held that under the Uniform Time Act of 1966, the entire state of Alabama is under CST and when interpreting a federal statute (such as the FDCPA), the Uniform Time Act requires courts apply the United States standard time zones.  Ms. Vinson was not able to provide the court with any authority that would allow a municipality to deviate from federal time zones for purposes of federal law.  Thus, as a matter of law, Vinson received the phone call at 8:39 p.m., and her claim under the FDCPA failed.

Read the entire opinion here.

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