Massachusetts Supreme Court unanimously reaffirms the Two-Call Per Week Law


Updated on Author: Sergei Lemberg

Updated on Author: Sergei Lemberg

June 25, 2018. In the case, DEBRA ARMATA vs. TARGET CORPORATION, our client was pursued by Target for a debt owed on a Target-branded debit card. Target routinely and as a matter of general practice placed more than two collection calls within a seven-day period. Though seemingly a prima facie violation of the Two-Call Per Week Law, Target was initially successful in rejecting a particular aspect of the statute, thereby securing a favorable summary judgement in the district court. Secured by our team at Lemberg Law, this decision codifies an important clarification in consumer protection jurisprudence

Also, read more about Massachusetts Two-call Per Week Law

In previous years, the protection afforded by the two-call per week rule was mitigated by an ambiguity in the definition of ‘communication’ between debtor and creditor under 940 CMR § 7.04 (1)(f). As per the statute, creditors are prohibited from “initiating a communication with any debtor vis telephone, either in person or via text messaging or recorded audio message” in excess of two per week where communication is defined as “conveying information directly or indirectly to any person through any medium.” In the past, collectors who had called debtors twice or more per week, but neither reached nor left a message, exploited this definition to escape liability by alleging that no ‘information’ was conveyed to the debtor. While the case-law shows that judges usually dispensed with this exculpatory defense, some debtors were not so fortunate (see Camacho vs. Northland Group, Inc. No. 13-10773 [D. Mass Sept. 2014]). Furthermore, since the FDCPA does not apply to original creditors, this ‘loophole’ exposed a significant statutory gap in consumer protection. Under this interpretation, creditors would be free to call debtors as frequently as they pleased, with little to no threat of recourse under the FDCPA or MA 940 CMR § 7.04..

However, on appeal the MA Supreme Court ruling dispensed with this exception, thereby overturning Target’s favorable summary judgment. In view of the plain-text reading of the statute, the guidance of then-Massachusetts Attorney General, and an unambiguous, non-restrictive interpretation of the subordinate ‘communication’ clause, the MA Supreme Court decided in favor of the consumer. This landmark decision carves out an important clarification for the two-call per week rule, therefore strengthening an essential clause in consumer protection. Henceforth, irrespective of whether the consumer picked up the phone or received a message, calls in excess of two per week by a debt collector is to be found in violation of ‘940 CMR 7: Debt Collection Regulations’ and therefore punishable under the law. Although, for the moment, this decision only affords protection to those residing in the Massachusetts Commonwealth, we can only hope that the rest of the country will soon follow suit.

Sergei Lemberg

About the Author:

Sergei Lemberg is an attorney focusing on consumer law, class actions related to automotive issues, and personal injury litigation. With nearly two decades of experience, his areas of practice include Lemon Law (vehicle defects), Debt Collection Harassment, TCPA (illegal robocalls and texts), Fair Credit Reporting Act, Overtime claims, Personal Injury cases, and Class Actions. He has consistently been recognized as the nation's "most active consumer attorney." In 2020, Mr. Lemberg represented Noah Duguid before the United States Supreme Court in the landmark case Duguid v. Facebook. He is also the author of "Defanging Debt Collectors," a guide that empowers consumers to fight back against debt collectors and prevail, as well as "Lemon Law 101: The Laws That Lemon Dealers Don't Want You to Know."

See more posts from Sergei Lemberg

Leave a Reply or Comment

Write a comment below to share online. Or, instead you can to our legal team.

Please select your star rating.

Briefly describe your experience Briefly describe your experience

What’s your name? What’s your name?

What’s your phone number? Please enter a valid phone number

Want to know if you could sue? Get a free legal evaluation from Lemberg Law?

Get Your No-Obligation
Case Evaluation

Send a secure message to our legal team.

What’s your name? What’s your name?
What’s your email address? What’s your email address?
What’s your phone number? What’s your phone number?
Briefly describe the problem Briefly describe the problem
Confidentiality Guarantee: We keep your information completely confidential and will not send you spam or sell your information.
By submitting above, I agree to the privacy policy and terms and consent to be contacted by an agent via phone call or text message at the phone number(s) listed above, including wireless number(s).