Bankruptcy petitions for consumers and businesses are on the rise.
There was a 5% increase in total bankruptcy filings in July 2019 from the previous month, the American Bankruptcy Institute said this week. There were 64,283 bankruptcy filings, up from 62,241 for the same period last year.
There were 452,797 filings in the first seven months of 2019, up from 450,568 during the same period last year. There were roughly 1,000 more consumer bankruptcies at this point this year, compared to the same point last year, the organization added.
The recent bankruptcy data shows many consumer and corporate filings last month were coming, from southern states. Alabama had the highest per capita rate, with 5.61 filings per 1,000 people, followed by Tennessee (5.39) and Georgia (4.31), Mississippi (4.25) and Nevada (3.79).
It’s a sign that people are taking out more loans without the requisite financial stability or they’ve been hit by an unexpected life event like illness or job loss. (People are twice as likely to file for bankruptcy if their health insurance has been interrupted.)
If You Were Unaware, The Public Utility Commission of Texas licenses ADAD – Automatic Dial Announcing Device Permits – to Allow Debt Collectors to Harass You Repetitively
ADAD stands for Automatic Dial Announcing Device, and this is the mechanism that sends an unsolicited recorded message to your home or workplace and could leave such a message on your answering machine.
Since 1986, the Texas PUC has been issuing ADAD permits for a fee. The fee for applications and renewals is $50 and $15 respectively.
Who Should File: Any individual or company wishing to make an unsolicited call via an ADAD machine or software, in which a recorded message is played, should file for an ADAD permit application PRIOR to engaging in such calls. Failure to do so may result in administrative penalties not to exceed $1000 for each day or portion of a day during which the ADAD was operating in violation of the PUC rules. See below for applicable rules.
When to File: ADAD permit holders are required to renew their permits annually. Renewals must be filed not less than 90 days prior to the expiration date of the current permit.
Incomplete Applications: Incomplete applications will be rejected and returned to you. NOTE: Only two copies will be returned to you and two will remain as public record in our Central Records Division. You will still be required to re-submit 4 copies of the corrected application in its entirety to the Central Records Division.
Forms – Applications
- ADAD New Permit and Amendment Application
- ADAD New Permit Application Instructions
- ADAD Complaint Form for the Local Exchange Carrier (LEC)
- ADAD Annual Permit Renewal Application – Login Required
- Portal Registration and ADAD Renewal Instructions
ADAD Penalties and Cease and Desist Letters
- Automatic Dial Announcing Devices
- Correction to these lists: send three copies of notice with current year’s project number to Filing Clerk, Public Utility Commission of Texas, 1701 North Congress, Room 8-100, P.O. Box 13326, Austin, TX, 78711-3326.
Rules – Statutes – Orders
District Court in the Fifth Circuit Holds that Predictive Dialers are Outside the Scope of the TCPA
Last week, the Northern District of Texas gave us our first case out of the Fifth Circuit addressing the definition of an ATDS in the post-ACA International era.
In Adams v. Safe Home Security, Inc. No. 3:18-CV-03098-M, 2019 WL 3428776, at *4 (N.D. Tex. July 30, 2019), the Court held that to qualify as an ATDS a device must be able to store and produce telephone numbers randomly and sequentially and that “predictive dialers… fall outside the definition of an ATDS.”
In reaching this conclusion, the Court undertook a two-step analysis.
First, it found that “the D.C. Circuit’s ruling [in ACA Int’l v. Fed. Commc’ns Comm’n, 885 F.3d 687, 692 (D.C. Cir. 2018)] invalidating the 2015 Order inherently overturned the same reasoning (that a predictive dialer qualified as an ATDS) in the 2003 and 2008 orders.” Id. at *2
After finding that the FCC’s 2003 and 2008 orders were no longer valid, the Court then “independently interpret[ed] the statute to determine the scope of the definition of an ATDS and whether it applies to predictive dialers.” Id.
In step two, the Court reviewed the statutory definition of an ATDS, and concluded that “an ATDS must both store and produce numbers that are randomly and sequentially generated and not merely store any numbers.” Id. Notably, the Court expressly rejected the Ninth Circuit’s Marks decision – which held that an ATDS covers devices that called from a list of stored numbers.
The Court further supported its conclusion by looking back to the FCC’s 1992 order which held that the “TCPA did not apply to speed dialing or call forwarding ‘because the numbers called are not generated in a random or sequential fashion.’” Id. at *4. The Court also looked at the TCPA’s legislative history which permits the FCC to allow businesses to call its customers with whom they have an “established business relationship.” Pointing to these facts, the Court reasoned that it was unlikely Congress was attempting to regulate devices that have the ability to store customers’ telephone numbers.
With the Adams case, we now have at least one district court in each of the eleven circuits addressing the definition of an ATDS after ACA Int’l in some form. It remains to be seen if any other Circuit Courts besides the Ninth Circuit will address this issue.