In a previous blog, I discussed what the TCPA is and how consumers can stop these annoying autodialer/robo calls. I briefly touched on what a consumer is entitled to if creditors and debt collectors autodial/robo call your cell phone. In this blog, I want to expand upon how the damages in these cases are determined.
$500 Per Call vs. $1,500 Per Call
A consumer is entitled to $500 in damages per call if a creditor or debt collector negligently autodials their cell phone. See 47 U.S.C. § 227(b)(3)(B). A consumer is entitled to up to $1,500 in damages per call if a creditor or debt collector willfully or knowingly violates the TCPA by autodialing their cell phone. See 47 U.S.C. § 227(b)(3)(C). The real question becomes: what is the difference between a negligent and a willful autodial call to a consumer’s cell phone? The best way to answer this question is by presenting two different scenarios.
Scenario #1: you apply for a car loan and do not provide your cell phone number as a contact number; rather, you provide your home phone number. A few months pass and for whatever reason, you miss a payment on your car loan. Next thing you know, you start receiving automated calls to your cell phone. The first question you might ask is, “how did they get my cell phone number”? That is a topic for another blog, but it is much easier than you might expect. The better question to ask is, “are they allowed to autodial my cell phone even though I never listed it on the car loan application”? The answer is emphatically “no”. The car loan company never had your consent to autodial your cell phone. This is a classic example of a negligent violation of the TCPA which would entitle you to $500 per call.
Scenario #2: you apply for a car loan and this time, you list your cell phone number as a contact number. Again, you fall behind on payments and the collection calls begin. This time, you tell the car loan company the reason you fell behind on payments and to stop calling your cell phone because you will make a payment on a certain date. Inevitably, these calls will continue- it is most companies’ policy to continue to call until they have received payment. So, you continue to tell the car loan company to stop calling your cell phone. This is a classic example of a willful violation of the TCPA which could entitle you up to $1,500 per call.
Obviously, the difference between recovering $500 and $1,500 per call is huge. Many consumer attorneys will settle out these TCPA cases for less than $500 per call because either they do not want to push the case through litigation, or they simply have too high of a case load to really care how much they recover for each call. That is not how we operate at Berkowitz & Myer. If you have told a creditor or debt collector to stop calling your cell phone and they continue to autodial your cell phone, I will litigate your case until they agree to pay $1,500 per call.
If you are receiving autodialer or robo calls, I will speak to you the moment you have received that first call from a debt collector or creditor and told them to “Stop Calling”. This is when I start my case evaluations with most clients. If you believe you may have a case, call me or simply email me at email@example.com and tell me what has happened.