How to Stop Debt Collectors Calling Wrong Number & Get Paid
Alright, today on the very first episode, we’re going to talk about debt collectors calling the wrong phone number. And so listen, this is the first episode and the purpose here is to give you actionable intelligence that you can use right off the bat.
So, the first thing I thought was what am I getting a lot of phone calls about.
Right off the bat, I thought let’s start off with this topic “How to Stop Debt Collectors From Calling You When They Are Looking For Somebody Else”.
So, if this has happened to you, boy I hope you like money because you probably have a claim.
You’re going to be very interested if you have those going on.
So, if a debt collector is calling you, the first question I want to know is what are they calling:
Are they calling your home phone or …
they are calling your cell phone?
We have different laws that govern each one of them, and they are totally different. So, let’s start with the more fun topic which is when they are calling your cell phone.
CALLS TO YOUR CELL PHONE LOOKING FOR THE WRONG PERSON
So, let’s say you’ve got a new cell phone number or you had one forever (it does not matter), but let’s say you have a new cell phone number and the phone rings, some 800 number and you pick it up, “Hey, this is Steve with ABC Debt Collector calling on behalf of Wells Fargo, looking to collect our money Jim Smith.”
And you are not Jim Smith, so you tell them “Hey, I’m not Jim Smith. I don’t even know what Wells Fargo is. Stop calling me.”
And you hang up and then they call you again. Now, that second call is probably illegal.
So everybody is on the hook here and they’re on the hook to pay you potentially up to 1500 bucks for that second phone call.
Because of computerized phone calls or ROBOCALLS.
See, in the old days, the debt collector would only be on the phone about 3% of the time because it takes a long time to call someone, let it ring to see what happens, and then go to the next number.
So, what someone came up with a robo dialer or an automated telephone dialing system.
And what it does is you can give it 30 numbers, call them all at one time and some of them will go to voicemail, some of them will get rejected, but a few of them will get picked up and then when they get picked up, the computer transfers that call over to the live agent. The computer is trying to figure out how many more calls to make based upon the amount of available operators.
This is big! Why?
If you’ve ever received a phone call and picked it up, and there’s dead air and you’re like “Hello? Hello?” And nothing is happening, and then “Oh hey, Mr. Smith how are you?”
Or, picked up the phone to hear a pre-recorded message about it you are ABC then stay on the line.
That was a robo dialer, and what you’re waiting on is a computer to find an available agent for them to transfer that call.
So, they’re just blowing up everybody’s phones all at once.
Congress figured out that people hate the shit out of that. They made it illegal unless you get the person’s permission.
And so they can have these robo dialers, but they have to have your permission to call you with it.
Now, the question that comes down to any robo dialer case–and now in this circumstance we’re back talking about a debt collector calling the wrong number, in this case the cell phone, is if someone is calling the wrong number, there is no way that you gave them your cell phone number because you’re not even the right person.
So just think that through for a second.
You never gave them permission and so that is a problem for them. Since you never gave them permission, the only question you have to answer now is were they using robo dialer?
And so couple things that can tell you it’s a robo dialer: one is that dead air that we talked about, just about silence.
Another one is music, if you ever pick up the phone and there is music on hold before something happens, boy that sounds like a potential robo dialer to me. And the other one is a pre-recorded message, so anytime you get something and it sounds like it was pre-recorded and then someone loud comes on the phone, that’s a robo dialer.
And so in the circumstance that we’re looking at here where we have someone calling you, you definitely need to give them permission. And you are hearing some dead air or you’ve got a pre-recorded message, they’re going to lose some money.
So the question is how many calls have come in? And that’s what I do, and what I do in the circumstance, is I’m going to help you get the old phone records.
Listen, your phone company will have a very limited amount of these calls. The other side is just going to give you a run around. But to the point, how do you stop these debt collectors? You call a consumer lawyer. Call me, Joseph McClelland.
And trust me, every phone call they called you, after the first one, we’re going to make them pay you because it sounds like they’re using robo dialer and then it’s just easy peasy Cover Girl. I mean I had someone this morning call me, they were talking about bankruptcy and I was asking some questions, you know I got to the end and I was like “Geez, I really can’t help this individual.
I’m going to have to refer them out to a bankruptcy attorney.” And so right before I said that, it clicked in my head and I said hey, why don’t I double check with this guy that no one’s ever blown up his cell phone looking for somebody else. And as soon as I said that it turns out it had, it had happened twice. So here’s a dude in Jackson, Georgia who is about to file bankruptcy, that’s the reason he calls me.
He calls me to actually file the damn bankruptcy form and instead, it looks like he’s got more than one caller that’s called him over 100 times a piece.
I mean this is a guy that’s about to file bankruptcy, now looks like there might be checks cutting, getting cut in the six figures.
It goes to show you that if someone is calling your cell phone for someone else, you need consumer advice, you need consumer attorney. If you don’t like me, for God’s sake, call someone else.
Look up NACA; it’s the National Association of Consumer Advocates. I’m a member of them. Find an attorney that does this, better yet, call me and if you’re in wherever the hell you are, I will help you find a real TCPA attorney out there, easy peasy Cover Girl.
Now let’s move to the second question, so that’s for the cell phone. They’re calling your cell phone. Guess what? That’s awesome! We’ve just learned everything about that. And by the way, you now know like 99% more than every individual out there and probably 99% more than every lawyer about the TCPA.
I didn’t even tell you what the language was. It’s a TCPA, that’s the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. It’s a Federal law and that’s the one that requires them to pay 500 bucks per illegal phone call.
And if we can prove that they did it intentionally, like willfully, we can turn that into $1500 per phone call. Enough of that, let’s put down the robo caller discussion, we’ll go into that a lot later on and future podcasts.
HOME PHONE CALLS FOR THE WRONG PERSON
Now, let’s talk about the second type of caller that could be calling you at the wrong number, is the home phone. I literally got this same call today. So someone calls me and someone has been blowing up their mom’s home phone for about two years, looking for someone else, trying to collect the debt.
She told them to stop calling a bunch of times, did it for a month, got tired of it and she just like mechanically dodges that call every time she sees the number and that’s bull crap. So [09:00] what’s going on here and how one might want to proceed. This is a circumstance that unfortunately for her is not nearly as valuable as a TCPA case.
Had they been calling her cell phone, this would have been a more fun conversation. Since they were calling her home phone, there’s a couple things that we need to double check.
Number one, did she ever tell them who she was or did she know that person? She doesn’t need to tell them who she is.
When she answers the phone, “Hey,” and they go “This is ABC Debt Collector. We’re looking for Sally Smith.”
The potential client picks up the phone and says, “I don’t know a Sally Smith. You’ve got the wrong number.” They hang up. Everyone is cool here. No laws have been broken. They can make that mistake.
The second time they call her back, looking for the Sally Smith, that phone call is illegal.
Now the second they place that second phone call, to me, I would argue that it was intentional to harass her because why else would they call someone, looking for the same person unless they don’t give a shit.
And so in this circumstance, they have now violated a different Federal law, not the TCPA, the cell phone law, but the FDCPA which is a general debt collection harassment statute.
And so at this moment, like I said, when they call back the second time, she has a lawsuit. And if you’re in this situation and you’ve just gone to the point where you’ve stopped answering every call from the [10:45], 800 number or every call from Arizona because they keep changing the numbers, but they’re calling for the Sally Smith.
You’ve got to tell them once that you don’t know who Sally Smith is.
They have a right to see if they’re calling the right person once, so you can’t just never answer the home phone. At least one point in time, you have to communicate with them that you don’t know who Sally Smith is.
So, once you’ve done that, you’re golden.
If they call you back again, then you need to call a consumer lawyer because that’s a violation like I said, of the FDCPA. And if you’re not in the state of Georgia, then just go find the NACA website.
It’s consumeradvocates.org, but just look up NACA and find a lawyer in your state.
And guys, I think we’ve reached the end of the first episode. It took a little bit longer than I wanted it to, but listen, if someone is calling you looking for someone else,you know what to do.
If they’re calling that cell phone, boy they may have an awesome case depending on what kind of dialer was used, but leave that up to the attorney. So if someone is getting buzzed like that on cell phone, tell them for goodness sakes.
They may get a big payday. If it’s the home phone, tell them. It’s easy to stop this stuff. You just got to tell them once to stop the calls. If they call a second time, call your consumer lawyer. In these types of cases, both of the ones I’ve discussed here today, almost no attorney worth their salt**, would charge you anything until they [12:29].
So, if you call an attorney and they want you to pay an hourly wage to go stop a debt collector, you’ve called the wrong person unless you’re in lawsuit. We will talk about that in a future podcast. This is Joseph McClelland with the Law Firm of Joseph P. McClelland wishing you the best. Thanks.