5 Signs Creditors Are Robo Calling Your Cell Phone

Frequently, clients ask me the question: “how do I know if creditors are robo calling my cell phone?” As some of you may know, this is an important question to ask because if creditors are robo calling (a/k/a autodialing) your cell phone without your consent, they are potentially violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”). This could entitle you from up to $500 to $1,500 per call. In this blog, I will share the five telltale signs that indicate when a creditor is most likely autodialing your cell phone.

Signs

1. Dead Air

When a creditor or debt collector calls your cell phone and you answer, if you have to say “hello” a few times before they respond, that is a good indication they are robo calling your cell phone. This is known as dead air. Sometimes, you will hear a clicking sound- this is the process of the call being transferred from the computer system to a live representative. Normally, there will be a few seconds of dead air. Other times, a live representative will never come on the line-the entire call will be dead air.

2. Automated Message

When you answer the call, an automated message begins to play and states something along the lines of: “hello, this is Company X calling for Jon Doe. You have a current balance of X amount of dollars which is past due. Please call 1-800-XXX-XXX to make your payment.” This message will be in a robotic voice, and you won’t be able to speak with a live representative.

3. Pre-Recorded Voicemail

In this scenario, you miss the call. When you listen to your voicemail, a pre-recorded message plays similar to the automated message above.

4. Calls Are Multiple Times Each Day

In this instance, you haven’t answered any of the calls yet, but they are coming multiple times a day and at very similar times each day. For example, they are calling your cell phone in the morning, around noon, and during evening time. If you pay attention, the calls could be almost at identical times each day. This is because your cell phone number is on an automated computer system which places calls at specific times. 

5. Creditor Tells You

This one seems obvious, but sometimes when consumers ask why they are receiving so many calls, the creditor will simply tell them because they are on an automated system- the computer is placing the calls.

Caveat

As anything else in the law, there is an exception. Recently, in a couple of cases in Florida, courts have ruled that a certain type of system called the LiveVox Human Call Initiator (“HCI”) System is not considered an Automated Telephone Dialing System (“ATDS”). In other words, the HCI System is exempt from the TCPA because it requires “human intervention”.  Fortunately, the majority of creditors have not switched over to this system yet. Having sued many of the creditors and debt collectors, I know the types of systems these companies use.

What To Do

In a previous blog, I described exactly what you need to do if you are receiving collection calls from creditors and debt collectors. In short, you need to document these calls (number, date, time) and tell them to “stop calling your cell phone”. If they continue to call your cell phone after you have told them to stop, they are most likely violating the TCPA, which could entitle you from up to $500 to $1,500 per call.

If you are receiving collection calls from creditors and/or debt collectors, you need to contact a consumer protection attorney immediately. I have sued the vast majority of these companies and have the knowledge and experience to maximize the recovery in your potential case. Call me at 727-344-0123 or email me at Jon@berkmyer.com for a free consultation of your potential case.

Strauss v. CBE Group, Inc. et alPozo v. Stellar Recovery Collection Agency, Inc.

Top Three Florida Debt Collection Violations

I have seen creditors violate Florida’s consumer protection statute (“FCCPA”) in almost every most possible manner.  That being said, in my experience, the following three violations occur most frequently:

  • Harassing phone calls – This is by far the most prevalent creditor violation that I come across.  The law is not exactly black and white on what constitutes harassment under the FCCPA.  There are many factors that come into play when determining if a creditor is legally harassing you.  I can say with confidence if you have told a creditor to stop calling at least three times, and they continue to call you, there is a good chance you have a harassment case against the creditor.  Essentially, you have to be able to show a pattern.  For example, if you have told a creditor to stop calling three times and explained you cannot afford to pay the subject debt, why else are they calling?  I make the argument that they are calling solely to harass you.  I have yet to lose this argument.
  • Calls to the workplace – This section of the statute is very tricky as well.  For instance, if you listed your employer’s telephone number on the creditor’s contract, creditors will argue that they had written permission to contact your employer in an attempt to collect the subject debt.  Further, if they contact you directly at work, this does not violate the statute either.  However, if they contact a third-party such as a colleague or your boss, they most likely have violated the statute even if they didn’t discuss the debt.
  • Knowingly attempting to collect a debt that is not owed – The key word here is “knowingly”.  Creditors have to have actual knowledge that the debt they are attempting to collect is not owed.  This seems to happen many times with cable and internet companies.  These companies will state you owe money for services rendered.  Shockingly, after informing them that you never had their services or you paid your bill, they will continue attempting to collect the subject debt.  This is a violation.
  • Remedies – Pursuant to the FCCPA, a consumer is entitled to up to $1,000 in statutory damages, any actual damages, attorney’s fees, and costs.  Simply put, you never will have to pay attorney’s fees or out-of-pocket expenses in these types of cases, and in many scenarios, you will be awarded up to $1,000 in statutory damages.

What To Do If You Fall Into One Of These Categories

If you are victim of one of these violations, you need to speak with a consumer protection attorney immediately. What separates me from many other consumer protection attorneys is, I personally speak with you and evaluate your case. At bigger firms, you will be lucky to ever speak with an attorney.  Most of the time, you will be communicating with a legal assistant. If you think you have a case, call me at 727-344-0123, or e-mail me at jon@berkmyer.com and tell me what has happened.

1 www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0500-0599/0559/Sections/0559.72.html

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