Articles Posted in Telephone Fraud

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Machines are wonderful pieces of technology that have made many aspects of modern life faster and easier. For example, machines that automatically dial many numbers very quickly have made it incredibly easy for large companies with thousands of customers to quickly and easily reach all (or most) of their customers. Unfortunately, many customers are not as thrilled about receiving promotional phone calls from a machine, particularly when the customers are the ones footing the bill for these calls.

In the days of landlines, phone calls were paid for by the person or entity making the phone call. When cell phones came about, that was reversed, and now many people are paying for the calls that they receive, as well as the ones they make. This means that owners of cell phones who receive automated calls on those mobile phones are not only annoyed, but may be paying for the privilege of being annoyed. To protect the rights of consumers who are being made to pay for phone calls they do not want to receive and for the annoyance and wasted time of dealing with these in most cases unwanted calls, Congress passed the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which makes it illegal for companies to auto-dial customers in a non-emergency situation without the express consent of the customers.

Despite the law, many companies continue to use auto-dialers to reach customers about sales and promotions. In some cases, the defendants argue that, by providing their cell phone numbers, customers are agreeing to be auto-dialed in non-emergency situations. Consumers frequently disagree with this assertion, claiming that the TCPA requires consumers to provide more explicit permission. The result is usually a lawsuit, such as the class action that was recently filed against AT&T that alleges the phone company violated the TCPA by calling customers using an auto-dialing system. Continue reading

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The Telephone Consumer Protection Act often referred to simply as the TCPA protects consumers from unwanted prerecorded calls from advertisers and bill collectors. It is intended to stop use of automated dialers and prerecorded messages to cell phones, whose subscribers often are billed for the call and do not want to be harassed with unwanted calls.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago has ruled that bill collectors violate the TCPA when they use predictive dial machines to automatically call the old phone number of persons who didn’t pay their cell phone bills after those numbers are reassigned to new people who don’t owe any money. The Court ruled that this practice was no different than a repo man breaking into a garage and taking the car of the new owner of the house once the old owner who hadn’t paid her car payments moved out. It commented on the nuisance created by predictive dialers that debt collectors uses to repeatedly make phone calls to the wrong cell phone numbers of innocent people who don’t owe AT&T a dime:

Predictive dialers lack human intelligence and, like the buckets enchanted
by the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, continue until stopped by their true master. Meanwhile Bystander is out of pocket the cost of the airtime minutes and has had to listen to a lot of useless voicemail.

In this case, AT&T hired a bill collector to call cell phone numbers at which customers had agreed to receive calls. The collection agency used a predictive dialer that works autonomously until a human voice answers. Predictive dialers continue to call numbers that no longer belong to the customers and have been reassigned to individuals who had not contracted with AT&T.

The district court certified a class of individuals receiving automated calls after the numbers were reassigned and held that only consent of the subscriber assigned the number at the time of the call justifies an automated or recorded call. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. With regard to the TCPA violation it had this to say: “An automated call to a land line phone can be an annoyance; an automated call to a cell phone adds expense to annoyance.” You can read the 7th Circuit’s opinion in Soppet v. Enhanced Recovery by downloading the file here.

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The National Fraud Center’s Internet Fraud Watch Website provides alot of useful information to help consumers and businesses identify the latest internet fraud. The website has this to say about internet fraud:

The Internet offers a global marketplace for consumers and businesses. But crooks also recognize the potentials of cyberspace. The same scams that have been conducted by mail and phone can now be found on the World Wide Web and in email, and new cyberscams are emerging. It’s sometimes hard to tell the difference between reputable online sellers and criminals who use the Internet to rob people. You can protect yourself by learning how to recognize the danger signs of fraud. If you are a victim or attempted victim of Internet fraud, it’s important to report the scam quickly so that law enforcement agencies can shut the fraudulent operations down.

If you are a victim of internet fraud, consumer fraud, unfair debt collection practices, or purchased a lemon automobile, rv or boat our Illinois based internet fraud, consumer fraud and class-action private sector lawyers may be able to assist you obtaining redress if the FTC, Illinois Attorney General or other government agency is unable to help you get your money back.

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If you believe you are the victim of a consumer fraud or scam that is harming many other individuals you should file a report with the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC maintains a Consumer Sentinel database which can be used by law enforcement authorities all over the world to fight consumer fraud. Click here if you want to learn more about that database or want to make a complaint with the FTC.

The FTC has this to say about its Consumer Sentinel database:

Your complaints can help us detect patterns of wrong-doing, and lead to investigations and prosecutions. The FTC enters all complaints it receives into Consumer Sentinel, a secure online database that is used by thousands of civil and criminal law enforcement authorities worldwide. The FTC does not resolve individual consumer complaints.

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The National Consumers League’s Fraud Center is one of the best informational websites on the internet to learn about consumer rights and protection issues. Informed consumers are best armed to protect themselves from consumer scams and consumer frauds. The website contains sections for Telemarketing Fraud, Internet Fraud, Scams Against Businesses, Scams Against Elderly, Counterfeit Drugs, and a Fraud News section.

DiTommaso-Lubin is a private consumer rights law firm who associates with other law firms around the country that can help you recover funds lost due to fraud against brick and mortar companies in the United States with assets. All too often with many internet and telemarketing frauds this may not be possible as the scam artists may be overseas, hard to locate or without assets.

Class action lawsuits our firm has been involved in or spear-headed have led to substantial awards totalling over a million dollars to organizations including the National Association of Consumer Advocates, the National Consumer Law Center, and local law school consumer programs. DiTommaso-Lubin is proud of our achievements in assisting national and local consumer rights organizations obtain the funds needed to ensure that consumers are protected and informed of their rights. By standing up to consumer fraud and consumer rip-offs, and in the right case filing consumer protection lawsuits and class-actions you too can help ensure that other consumers’ rights are protected from corporate misdeeds.