Since cell phones have become the more popular mode of communication, many consumers will go through different providers and as a result have many different phone numbers. Sometimes a customer does not pay the bill and their service is cut off, and that phone number is given to a new customer. For whatever reason, it is growing more common as a cell phone owner to receive calls for the former owner of that number. It becomes more frustrating when the former owner of that number has old creditors or collectors calling.
Many of these creditors or collectors are turning to automated systems to dial the multitude of numbers of consumers they call. These automated dialers also tend to leave automated messages or have automated systems when the calls are answered. The systems make it very difficult for the innocent phone owner to force these erroneous “robo” to stop.
One great tool enacted by Congress is The Telecommunication Consumer Protection Act. This law provides rights to people who are receiving robo-calls to their cell phone without permission. Under the TCPA, it s a violation for a company to call:
with an automated dialing system;
to a cell phone
without the express authorization of the owner of that
Express authorization means that the owner of the phone either stated or provided in writing. This can be done by providing the cell phone to the creditor as part of an application. For instance, if you provide your cell phone to a bank when signing up for an account, you have given express authorization for a bank to use that cell phone. It is not a defense to the company making the calls that they were given that cell number by their former customer. Courts have held that just because the creditor or collector may have had the permission to dial the number from the former owner of the number, then it does not give them permission to keep dialing the number once it changes hands. That owner of the number must be the one who gives the permission to call. Courts are also unmoved by the argument that the creditors’ and collectors machines are unable to tell that the number has changed ownership. If a human being would have been doing the job instead of a machine, the human could have learned that a different person was answering the phone, and discontinued calling that number.
If a company is found to be in violation of the TCPA, they could be forced to pay up to $500 per illegal call. For consumers getting multiple calls a day, this can add up to quite a large sum. In addition, if the conduct in continuing the calls is deemed to be a willful violation of the TCPA, the court can increase the award to $1,500 per call.
If you are receiving continuous automated calls on your cell phone from a company you did not provide that number to, CONTACT USfor a free case review. SmithMarco, P.C., has over 30 years of combined experience practicing law protecting the rights of consumers around the country.