Dish Network was fined $280 million for using illegal robocalls to promote services in Ohio, Illinois, North Carolina, and California. Dish Network was telemarketing services to consumers registered on the “Do Not Call” list, a national registry provided by the Federal Trade Commission that allows consumers to register any number to avoid receiving future robocalls from any company...
Can a debt collector call you during the holidays? It Depends
Getting a phone call from a debt collector during the holiday season can ruin your holiday spirit. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) restricts the actions of debt collectors, protects consumers, and punishes debt collectors with unruly, bad behavior. Troy Doucet, the firm principal here at Doucet & Associates Co., L.P.A., shares advice regarding the FDCPA and how to deal with unruly debt collectors during the holiday season in the article “Can a Debt Collector call you during the holidays?” in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The FDCPA punishes debt collectors who contact consumers with repetitive, harassing behavior and restricts them from calling consumers at inconvenient times. Calling in the middle of the night or calling a consumer at work are typical examples of an inconvenient time, but holidays may also be arguable inconvenient and a violation of the FDCPA.
Under the FDCPA, consumers are allowed to send a written letter asking a debt collector to stop calling. After, the debt collector may contact the consumer one more time to inform them they plan to take legal action. If the debt collector continues to contact the consumer after the letter, then a consumer litigation lawyer at Doucet & Associates Co., L.P.A. can help determine if the FDCPA has been violated. Once a consumer has legal representation, the debt collector cannot contact the consumer directly without permission of the lawyer.
In Ohio, lawsuits dealing with the FDCPA allow fee shifting. This means if the lawyers at Doucet & Associates Co., L.P.A. can help you win a lawsuit against a debt collector for bad and unruly behaviors, the debt collector will have to pay all of our attorney fees for you. Contact an experienced lawyer at (614)944-5219 for your consultation today.
Get Your Refund for the Samsung Galaxy Note7 at 3pm Today
Samsung issued a voluntary recall on original and replacement Galaxy Note7 phones sold by wireless carriers and retailers in the United States. The phones have a history of overheating and have been labeled with serious fire and burn hazards by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
Due to the safety risk, Samsung is asking everyone to turn off the Galaxy Note7 phones. Consumers can contact the carrier or retailer where they purchased the phone to learn about refund options. Samsung has modified the U.S. Note7 Refund and Exchange Program so consumers can exchange the Galaxy Note7 for another Samsung smartphone or a monetary refund.
A consumer choosing to exchange the Galaxy Note7 for a different smartphone can also replace specific Galaxy Note7 accessories. Consumers will receive a refund if the exchange is cheaper than the original price paid for the Galaxy Note7.
Some consumers may also qualify for extra bill credit depending on the situation. Galaxy Note7 owners can read more about the refund credit policies here. Consumers who purchased the smartphone on the Samsung website can contact the company at 1-844-365-6197. Samsung is sending consumers safety boxes to return the Galaxy Note7 phones by mail.
State Attorneys General Urge Telecom Companies to Offer Call Blocking Technology
The Ohio Attorney General along with forty-four other state Attorneys General, wrote a letter to five telecom companies urging them to make call blocking technology available to consumers. The Ohio Attorney General’s office claimed consumers called their office over 1,400 times to complain about “Do Not Call” violations in 2014 alone, prompting the organization to reach out to AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint and Century Link. Telemarketing and robocalling are a thorn in the side of consumers that has existed for decades, and there have been several attempts by Congress to address this issue for consumers, such as the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).
This is not the first time that state Attorneys General have urged telecom companies to offer call blocking technology to consumers. Many of these companies maintained that such technology could potentially violate existing regulations put in place by the FCC. In an attempt to correct this last September, thirty-nine Attorneys General asked the FCC to adopt a clarification to the rules in question. In June 2015, the FCC obliged and noted that call blocking technology is completely legal for these providers to offer.
Dozens of third party apps are already on android and apple devices that offer such a service, which companies such as Verizon have already cited as a reason that no action needs to be taken. However, these apps are not sufficiently popular to stem the massive tide of complaints that consumer protection agencies like the Ohio Attorney General’s office receive on a regular basis. The FCC and Attorneys General encouraged these telecom companies to either work with these third party developers or offer their own call blocking services.
However, companies such as Verizon are concerned that offering such call blocking technology could exacerbate an already present problem known as spoofing. Telemarketing companies, in an attempt to circumvent some of the more popular call blocking technologies that already exist, falsify their caller ID information in order to trick the system into letting a call through. Verizon claims that they get thousands of complaints every year from individuals who had their numbers used in such a manner.
Doucet & Associates has many attorneys who are well versed in consumer law. Most consumers are unaware that there are several protections in the law that can offer them a defense against these annoying and unwarranted phone calls. Laws such as TCPA actually make unwanted telemarketing and robocalls illegal, and the Do Not Call list is much more than just a myth. If your cell phone number has illegally fallen into the hands of telemarketers and you constantly receive these calls, call Doucet & Associates at (614) 944-5219 and find out how we can help you take your number back.
Can I Stop Spam Email?
While federal law prohibits junk faxes and robo-dialed calls to cell phones ($1,500 per fax/call), there is no federal law that allows you to sue for spam email. There is a law, but that law allows the government to sue and does not provide a private cause of action for consumers.
However, there may be a way to stop spam email in Ohio if you are a consumer getting emails from a business trying to sell you something. If you are a consumer (rather than a business getting business solicitations), the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act may provide some assistance. That Ohio law has been used to enforce consumer rights under federal laws that do not directly allow a consumer to sue. That “theory of extension” allows you to go to court in Ohio and seek both an injunction to prohibit the spam and damages including attorneys’ fees.
If you think you have a case, the first thing we recommend doing is emailing the spammer and asking to be removed from their email lists. If there is an opt-out provision in the email, you may want to email that address asking to be removed, but be careful about clicking on links from unknown addresses to avoid unknowingly downloaded a virus. Try this 3-4 times to bolster your case, and if the emails still haven’t stopped coming, contact our law firm for help in filing a lawsuit. Another option is to contact your ISP to see if that can block that address.
Let Me Call You Back… Why Auto Dialers Are Bad for Business
Have you ever received a phone call from a number you did not recognize, only to find it was a robocall about a service you did not want or need? Did that phone call end with the nagging question of how were they able to get your phone number? Our client, Rick W., went through an experience like that. When he answered his cell phone, he was autodialed about a problem that no homeowner ever wants to get a call about: his mortgage.
In setting up his mortgage, our client was careful to only to write his home phone number in the section marked “borrower information” and gave his cell phone number to the bank solely as a work number. Rick did not volunteer this number to be called by his mortgage company. As such, his rights were violated under the TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act) when his mortgage company, Carrington Mortgage Services autodialed his cellphone. Doucet & Associates filed a class action on his behalf, which recently settled for over $1 million.
The TCPA was passed in 1991 to protect consumers from tactics that were becoming increasingly pervasive among telemarketers, such as using auto dialers to advertise to cell phone users. In many cases, calling a cell phone would result in a charge to the owner of that device, meaning that unsolicited calls were not only an annoyance, but an actual expense to anyone receiving them. Automated messages, or robocalls, are also prohibited by the TCPA, because Congress found that they are a greater nuisance and invasion of privacy than their human counterparts.
Our client never intended to have his cell phone number used for unsolicited calls. He maintained that Carrington repeatedly used an auto-dialer to communicate with him about his mortgage, in some cases calling his cell several times a week to leave threatening automated messages. His lawsuit alleged that Carrington even called him twenty-six times in the span of 3 months, which equates to roughly one call every three or four days.
Vanessa R. believed herself to be in a similar situation with Carrington, but when she took over her current mortgage from her ex-husband in 2008, she did not even have a cell phone. She eventually got one in 2010, and alleged that Carrington began sending her threatening messages regarding her mortgage roughly a year after that point. She did not know how Carrington obtained her number, but she claimed that when she asked Carrington about the matter, they responded by saying “we have ways of locating that information.” She co-sued in the class action lawsuit.
Much like Rick, Vanessa claimed to have received multiple automated calls a week from Carrington on a cell phone that was never volunteered. The parallels in these cases led attorneys to believe that this was likely a pattern of behavior from Carrington, resulting in the class action lawsuit. If any of this sounds similar to an experience you have gone through, regardless of whether or not Carrington was involved, call us at (614)-944-5219.