Stop Debt Collectors  from Calling the Wrong Number for the Wrong Person 

Businesses calling the wrong phone number looking for someone else?

So, if this has happened to you, you probably have  an individual claim for damages under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act or TCPA.

So, if a debt collector is calling you, the first question is what type of phone are they calling?

Are the debt collectors calling your home phone or, are they are calling your cell phone?

We have different laws that govern each one of them, and they are totally different.

What you will learn:

So, let's start with the more fun topic which is when they are calling your cell phone, what steps you should take, and how much money you are entitled to under the TCPA. 

Then, we will cover what happens when the debt collectors are robocalling your home phone looking for someone else.

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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 the debt collectors call you again. Now, that second wrong number collection call is illegal.

So everybody is on the hook here, and they're on the hook to pay you potentially up to 1500 dollars for that second phone call.

Why?

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. The collector must let it ring to see if anyone answers and leave a message, and then go to the next number.

So, someone came up with a robodialer or an automated telephone dialing system.

What it does is you can give it hundreds of 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 the calls will get picked up.

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?

Wrong Number Collection Calls being Robocalled

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 asking you to stay on the line for an agent or giving you instruction to call them back.

That was a robo dialer, and what you were waiting on is a computer to find an available agent for them to transfer that call.

So, the debt collectors are just blowing up everybody's phones all at once.

Congress figured out that people hate that. They made it illegal unless the debt collectors get the person's permission or consent (and keep it).

So, the debt collectors 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  that is a problem for them. Since you never gave them permission, the only question you have to answer now is were they using robodialer?

And so couple things that can tell you it's a robodialer: 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 robodialer to me from a debt collectors.

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 robodialer.

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 robodialer.

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, call someone else.

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, 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.

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.

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 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.

Email me personally at joseph@jacksonlaw.com and I will answer any questions about wrong number collection calls and marketing calls.

How to Stop the Calls

1

Figure Out Who Is Calling

Simply ask them which bill they are collecting. Then, ask what company do they work for.

2

Ask Them To Stop

This is not a necessary step but should be done.

3

Contact An Attorney for Damages

You don't have to collect the damages that you are owed, but not only will you throw away good money, the business likely continue to call or pass the account to a new collector who will start calling. Contacting a robocall attorney fixes this.

COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT HARASSING CELL PHONE CALLS

Can a bill collector call the wrong number?

No, a debt collector is not allowed to contact the wrong person.


Bill collectors will often start to call the wrong person because of the previous owner of your phone number had a bill or there was an error when they inputted the information into their system.


Regardless of how the error occurred, these calls may be illegal under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.


Can a business or bank call your cell phone looking for someone else? 

No, a business or a bank is not allowed to contact you on a cell phone looking for someone else intentionally or accidentally.


This is generally a violation of multiple laws including the telephone consumer protection act.


How many times can a debt collector call your cell phone looking for someone else?

The answer is zero.


Collection company is never allowed contact you without consent on your cell phone. Doing so may violate the FDCPA or the TCPA condition to other state laws.


How many times must a debt collector call you before you can sue them?

Every call that was made by debt collector or a business without consent looking for someone else that is not you may be in violation of multiple loss.


After the first call you may have a viable claim. However, the more times they call the more valuable your claim will be.


Can you sue a business or a bill collector if you don't tell them to stop calling because they are only leaving voice messages?

Yes, you can sue a debt collector or business that is calling someone else but instead calling your cell phone and only going to voicemail or blocking the number.


It doesn't matter if you actually spoke to them because you originally never gave them consent to call in the first place.


Can you sue a debt collection caller for more money if you told them to stop calling but they constantly call?

Absolutely. If you have told a business or a bill collector to stop calling you and they continue to call you, then the value of those calls may actually triple under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.


For how much money can you sue under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act for getting another person's phone calls? 

If you are getting calls that are meant for someone else and the company was using a particular type of phone system, then you are entitled to $500 for each time they called. However, if you told them that they are calling somebody else or to stop calling then the value of those calls may increase to $1,500 for each phone call.


Is there a maximum amount of money you can sue for forgetting another person's phone calls or calls for someone else?

No, there is no maximum amount or cap. It only depends on the volume of calls and whether or not they were in violation of the law.


How much does it cost to hire an attorney to stop harassing phone calls?

Our law firm only charges a percentage of what we are able to recover. We do not request any upfront fees during the litigation.

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