We came across a question to one of the many consumer question boards that asked: What kind of
scam is going on with these calls where they mention a name then tell you to hang up if you are not this person? What do they do if you don’t hang up but instead stay on the line for the whole message?
Its not a scam, but a rather weak way that collection agencies are trying to make themselves more efficient, by reducing costs and increasing the amount of calls they make. This phone call is
likely coming from an auto-dialer. The auto dialers are known for making far more contacts with consumers than the collectors would make if they had to manually dial each debtor they call. More calls = more chances of money for them.
If the consumer doesn’t answer the phone, many of these collectors go ahead and risk violating the
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by having that machine that called leave a message. So what happens if you stay on line for the whole message? Nothing except whoever did owe that debt just had it improperly revealed to a third party in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. But if you don’t
know the person, it sure does nothing for you to know that they are the owners of a right to a lawsuit against the collector.
The best thing to do in that situation is to let the message play out, and follow the options, if any, that allow you to speak to a representative. Tell that representative that they have the wrong number, and whoever it is they are looking for cannot be found at this number. They may call yet again, and you may have to remind them again. However, if this gets persistent, then the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act does
provide you a remedy. It is a violation of the FDCPA to continue to cause a phone to ring
with the intent to harass, and it is a violation of the FDCPA to engage in any conduct, the natural consequence is to harass. When a consumer has provided warning to the collector that the number they
are calling is incorrect, and the collector persists on calling, then one can conclude that the natural consequence of the continued calls is to be harassing.
In addition, if the calls are coming into a cell phone, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act comes into play. Under that law, if the collector makes multiple calls to a cell phone with an auto-dialer but without the express permission of the consumer to use the cell phone. Obviously, if the account does not belong to the person receiving the robo-calls, then the caller does not have express permission to call that phone.
When you’re being pursued by debt collectors, you have rights, and we’re here to help. SmithMarco, P.C. has been protecting consumer rights since 2005. If you are receiving calls to your cell phone from an automated, or “Robo” dialer, CONTACT US for a free case review.