Columbus, Ohio residents in the 614 area code receive an extremely high number of robocalls. Robocalls are automated messages sent to a consumer’s phone that are typically annoying and unwanted...
If your group is interested in learning about consumer law and consumer rights, Doucet & Associates Co., L.P.A. can help by arranging a one-hour presentation for your group...
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.