Annoying Robocalls: How to fight back

A Maryland plaintiff is suing Discover Financial Services for allegedly violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) by using an automated dialing system to contact her without permission.

According to Andrianna A., Discover began contacting her in 2015 in order to collect a debt. Despite the plaintiff requesting Discover to stop calling her, the financial services company continued to call her multiple times a day.

Andrianna believes the calls were placed using an automated telephone dialing system (robocaller) because of the frequency, number, nature and character of the calls.

This lawsuit describes Andrianna’s fight to stop the purported telephone harassment between March 30th and August 30th whereas Discover reportedly used an automated dialing system to call her at least 931 times.

During this time period, Discover called Andrianna multiple times a day, once even calling 22 times in the same day [1].

Federal Communications Commission
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act was enacted in 1991 to protect consumers from annoying telemarketers and other types of solicitors who do not have permission to contact them or who break other TCPA laws such as: Placing robocalls (using an automated dialing machine and/or pre-recorded message); Sending solicited text messages; Calling or texting people who never established a business relationship with the company; Not providing an option to opt out of the calls/texts; Calling numbers listed on the National Do Not Call Registry or on company-specific “do-not-call” lists; Sending unsolicited advertisements to any fax machine—both businesses and residences—without the recipient’s prior express invitation or permission (i.e., “junk faxes”).

Other TCPA violations: Consumers who encounter businesses that violate the terms listed above or any other TCPA violation not listed may be able to collect between $500 and $1,500 per violation by filing a TCPA lawsuit [2].

New Updates to the Act
Over the summer, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted 3-2 to move forward on Chairman Tom Wheeler’s proposed revisions to the TCPA that will attempt to “close loopholes” and give consumers more control over how they are contacted. In was the FCC is calling “one of the most significant FCC consumer protection actions since it established the Do-Not-Call Registry with the FTC in 2003,” the ruling is in response to the more than 20 pending petitions requesting clarifications on a number of issues.

Definition of Automated Dialer- To keep up with technology, the ruling expands the definition of an automated dialer to include any phone with future capability of becoming an automated dialer.

Robocall-blocking Technology- Carriers now have the green light to offer consumers “robocall-blocking” tools.

Revoke Consent- Consumers will have the explicit right to revoke consent to receive prerecorded messages and text messages by any “reasonable way,” including verbal notification.

Calls to Reassigned Numbers- If a number has been reassigned, a caller must stop calling the number after one (1) call.

Limited Exemption for Urgent Circumstances- The FCC will allow very limited and specific exception to permit the use of “robocalls,” such as alerts to possible fraud on your credit card or a reminder to refill a prescription [3].

These regulations are tougher than ever, ensuring compliance will only improve relations between consumers and businesses. Negligence in this regard can ruin a business’s reputation, brand and credibility as well as offer consumers a way to fight back if a business is trolling their phone numbers.

Florida Law
Florida law prohibits much of the same conduct outlined above, as well as, among others, the communication or threatened communication with a debtor’s employer before obtaining a final judgment against the debtor (unless the debtor gives permission in writing to contact the employer or acknowledges in writing the existence of a debt after it has been place in collection). Other federal laws such as the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) contend that debt collectors are required to disclose certain information when speaking with you about the debt you owe and are also limited as to how they are allowed to go about collecting that debt. Certain words and mechanisms utilized by debt collectors-such as an abusive language or falsely claiming to be an attorney- simply are not tolerated under Federal law. Florida’s Consumer Collection Practices Act (FCCPA) applies not only to debt collectors, but also to original creditors. Both laws are aimed at putting an end to abusive and deceptive debt collection practices and mirror the TCPA.

Editor's Note: Matthew Dolman is a civil trial lawyer and managing partner of the Dolman Law Group, with offices in Clearwater, New Port Richey and St. Petersburg.

He limits his practice to first and third party insurance claims relating to injuries suffered by an individual due to the negligence exhibited by an individual or corporation.

More specifically he represents individuals throughout Florida who have sustained serious injuries as a result of a car accident, motorcycle accident, truck accident, slip & fall, negligent security, sexual assault, drunk driver.

Further, he also routinely represents plaintiffs who have suffered due to understaffing and under-resourced assisted living facilities or nursing homes. Matthew has been selected as a Super Lawyer by his colleagues in 2012, 2013, 2014 & 2015, as published in Law & Politics Magazine.

He has also been selected as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by National Trial Lawyers.

Disqus Comments