You’ve blocked unknown number after unknown number. You’ve listed your number on the National Do Not Call Registry. And yet, it never fails. Your phone rings, you pick up, and the voice on the other end has some likely-fraudulent scheme to sell.
Whether they’re scheming to learn sensitive information like your social security or credit card numbers or simply annoying you with sales pitches for your car’s extended warranty, it’s a good bet you don’t want to hear what they have to say.
Well, a man in Texas got tired of sitting back and passively hanging up on those unwanted calls. He got active. And he got his lawyer involved.
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“I probably get, in any given day, 10 on average,” said Dan Graham about the number of spam calls and texts he receives. “I counted one day, actually…I got 24 that day.”
Because of the work Graham does, which requires he split his time between Austin and Dallas, he doesn’t have the luxury of simply ignoring numbers he doesn’t recognize.
“With now two young kids and a wife living in another city, just not answering the phone when I get a strange call is, that’s not an option particularly because now these guys started spoofing phone numbers,” Graham said.
After several complaints logged with both the Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission netted no relief, he turned to the courts, filing a suit alleging a violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).
That legislation puts restrictions on telemarketers’ use of autodialed and prerecorded calls and texts. And in 2012, the rules were refined even further by the FCC, compelling telemarketers “(1) to obtain prior express written consent from consumers before robocalling them, (2) to no longer allow telemarketers to use an “established business relationship” to avoid getting consent from consumers when their home phones, and (3) to require telemarketers to provide an automated, interactive “opt-out” mechanism during each robocall so consumers can immediately tell the telemarketer to stop calling.”
“It’s gone from just the calls that are, ‘hey, we want to sell you a car’…we want to sell insurance, to text messages that are I would say a blatant fraud. You won an iPad or you know, you won an iPhone or your phone’s infected and you need to download this anti-virus software, things like that,” Graham said.
Since engaging the courts in his fight, Graham said he’s won about $75,000 across around 50 small claims verdicts. But while the effect might be positive on his bank account, Graham said it hasn’t exactly been negative on most of the offending companies. Still, some have changed their ways.
“We’ve had some that simply say ‘Hey, we don’t really care. We’re gonna keep doing what we want,’” Graham said. “No apology, nothing. We’ve also had another company – this is probably my favorite – we took them to court, and they called. Their legal counsel called us and said, ‘First of all, thank you. We realize you’re suing us, but we had no idea our marketing affiliates were doing this kind of behavior. We’ve fired them on the spot, we’ve ended the relationship.’”
Written By: Mark Menard for KRLD Dallas, Texas