TCPA

DESPICABLE USCC

DESPICABLE USCC

Minions are small organisms who have been around since the beginning of time and exist only to serve history’s most Despicable Masters.  There is no better example of real life Minions in this world than those in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (USCC).  When people talk about how evil “special interest” groups are, they are talking about the USCC who serve the supervillains like the tobacco and pharmaceutical industries.

How The Grinch Did Not Steele The TCPA

Every Who down in Fort Myers

Liked the TCPA a lot ...

But the Grinch,

Who lived north of Fort Myers,

DID NOT!

 

The Grinch hated the TCPA! The whole TCPA law.

Now, please don't ask why and please do not call. 

It could be because its so easy to harass

It could be, perhaps he just wanted a pass.

But I think that the most likely reason of all

Was because he had no "express consent" to call.

 

"They're hanging up their phones," he said with a sneer.

They're saying, "stop calling." What now? Oh dear!

Then he growled, with his Grinch keyboard drumming.

I MUST find some way to to stop the TCPA from coming.

 

Then he got an idea!

An awful idea!

THE GRINCH 

GOT A WONDERFUL, AWFUL IDEA!

 

All I need is an argument,

The Grinch looked around.

But good ones were scarce, 

there was none to be found.

Did that stop the old Grinch...?

No! The Grinch simply said,

"If I can't find a real one, I'll make one instead."

So he called on his dog Spokeo and typed up some dread

And tied it to arguments that long since were dead.

 

But, you know that old Grinch was so smart and so slick,

He thought up some words and he thought them up quick. 

"Concrete damages," a new concept you see,

"This dooms all class actions," cuts them down like a tree. 

"Defacto, that is, it must actually exist"

 "The landscape had changed, all TCPAs must be dismissed."

 

"PoohPooh to the Who's" he was grinchishly typing,

Romero and "de minimis" he was so confidently hyping.

But when Judge Steele read the words, he was not fooled by that stuff

Its called precedent he thought, I'll call the Grinch's bluff

 

And what happened then ....

Well in Floridaville they say 

That the Judge did in facto 

save the TCPA!

 

These damages are real he wrote, not fake like your sleigh

consumers have rights, you cant take them away.

I can't dismiss these cases, I'll give you no such relief

Then the Judge himself carved up the Grinch's brief!

What is "Collection Harassment?"

Short answer: Anything a collector does that isn't nice

Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men said it best, "You have to ask me nicely!" Collectors may contact you to collect but they must do it nicely.  If they do anything that is not nice then it is probably technically a violation of the law.

We have great laws in our country that protect us from any debt collection conduct that is harassing or abusive.  The good news is there is no definition for what is considered harassing.  What is “harassing" is left up to a jury.

I used the term “collection harassment” almost 20 years ago, and while nobody can prove who used the term first, the smart money is on me.  Collection harassment comes in all shapes and sizes, from falsely reporting a debt on your credit, to calling you at work, to robodialing your cell phone 22 times a day.

The most common way for collectors to harass you is using a "robodialer" aka autodialer. Banks and debt collectors have the ability to call 10 million people a day for only 1 penny using a robo-dialer!  They live to harass people and they love that they have the technology to do so.  These big banks, credit card companies, department stores and debt collectors who I refer to as "robo-bullies" for brevity’s sake are the #1 consumer complaint in America today.  It is so easy to plug a person’s number into their “robocalling campaign” and hit “blast” which commonly results in calling people 10 to 20 times a day and more.  They don’t need to waste time on the phone arguing with people when they can just harass you by calling you every hour automatically.  I like to refer to this practice as "automated harassment.” This has the effect of people becoming so overwhelmed with the amount of calls they are receiving or the embarrassment factor of getting so many calls that they just pay to stop the harassment. 

Some robo-bullies say calling somebody 10 or 20 times a day really isn’t harassment but I have yet to meet one that is willing to say that to a jury.  Collectors also like to make statements like “we were just trying to help our client,” this is another ridiculous defense position that is easy to say while negotiating but again, would not play so well in front of a jury.

Top 10 Collection Harassment techniques:

  1. Repeated calls using automated systems (aka Robodialer-99.99% of collectors use these) 
  2. Repeated pre-recorded messages 
  3. Calling at work, or to third parties such as neighbors or friends
  4. Falsely reporting a debt on your credit report
  5. Sending letters that are misleading
  6. Sending letters to family members
  7. Threatening to file a lawsuit when there is no intention to do so
  8. Being rude or abusive on the phone
  9. Collecting money not owed
  10. Pressuring payment when you can’t afford it

I imagine there are some nice debt collectors out there, I just haven't met them.  The collectors that I have interviewed and deposed are not people I’d be inviting to a party.  And there is a built-in reason; they are so nasty and harass people.  They get paid a percentage of the amount of money they collect, and “harassment" works and makes people pay money.  Since hardly anybody sues them there is no reason, in their mind and according to their collection model, to stop. 

It’s time for us to rise up as a country and fight back against these bullies.  Call your local news station and tell them what is going on, they love good stories about bad actors, and find a good lawyer that makes a living suing those that harass our families and friends.

How do you get $1500 Per Call?

The short answer is you must sue the offending company because they certainly won't just send you the money.

In order to get $1500 Per Call you must show a company is "willfully" calling using an autodialer or pre-recorded message without your consent.  If you can show these elements to the court then you have a violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) which may be worth $1500 Per Call.

The first hurdle is to prove a pre-recorded message or autodialer aka "automatic telephone dialing system" ("ATDS") was used.  If when you answer the phone and hear a pre-recorded voice or a pre-recorded message is left on your voice mail then you can check that box. Whether a company is using an autodialer is sometimes more difficult.  The vast majority of banks, debt collectors and other financial institutions use them but some simply won’t admit to it.  This may be surprising, or maybe not, but these types of companies make lots of money by breaking the law and getting away with it so they sometimes deny they use an autodialer although they admit they call or text one million (1,000,000) people a day.

A "call" is a telephone call, a text or a fax, all of which are covered by the TCPA.  

All companies must have your "express permission" to use an autodialer to call your cell phone.  Telemarketers must have your "written consent" to call your resident line. [Debt collectors basically get a free pass when calling your home line even when using an autodialer.]  "Consent" is the hottest topic of debate these days.  These mega-collectors make every ridiculous argument they can think of and claim they have consent when they really don't. Callers, per the TCPA, must have your consent to call and it must be given by you, not someone else like a family member of friend.  The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) which has the duty of implementing the TCPA, states that if you give your number to a creditor as part of an application then that counts as consent for any debt collector to call.  Numerous Courts don't agree with this position-which frankly flies in the face of logic.  The approach that would make the most sense is, if a company wants to robo-blast your phone then they should at least be required to get your consent to do so.  

To obtain a $1500 Per Call ruiling one must prove the call was made "knowing" or "willful,"  which basically means it was intentional.  This is sometimes difficult to prove for a few reasons: 1) Courts have many different opinions as to what is necessary to prove this willful conduct, 2) It's not clear if a judge or jury is the one who makes the determination whether the calls are willful, 3) Most defendants are so scared of going to trial and getting a public verdict against them that they throw a lot of money at people and get them to sign confidentiality agreements so the truth about their conduct will never become public, 4) Most people don't know they have the right to fight back and file a lawsuit for abusive robo-dialing, so it's difficult to estimate how many times they are intentionally or willfully breaking the law.  

Although its challenging to have a Jury or Judge award $1500 Per Call, I have been able to obtain 3 separate Federal Court Orders in which Florida Judges awarded my clients not only $500 per call but  increased the awards to $1500 Per Call! [If you would like to see these Orders simply email me at: Billy@TheConsumerProtectionFirm.com]

Learn more about your rights and our quest for $1500 Per Call by visiting 1500PerCall.com

$1500 Per Call, Thats a Great Law!