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...
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...
A cruise line that illegally telemarketed and advertised a free cruise by robocalling thousands of people in 2011 and 2012 is required to pay at least $56 million dollars in damages and fines.
Police Arrest People In India Involved in IRS Scam
Police caught more than 700 people in Mumbai, India call centers posing as United States Tax Officials who scammed Americans into paying money for fake tax related debts. At least 70 people have been arrested so far. These calls violate the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which Doucet & Associates Co., L.P.A. helps people enforce.
Authorities estimate the call centers made an average of $150,000 a day, or over $50 million a year. The scammers demanded payments over the phone through money transfer wiring services and gift cards. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) started the Robocall Strike Force in August to battle unwanted, illegal robocalls such as the IRS scam and to find the source. Consumers who get these calls can receive up to $1500 per call under the TCPA, which Doucet & Associates Co., L.P.A. has extensive experience litigating.
The scam utilized a Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) to make the Indian telephone numbers imitate US numbers. Scammers also received training to learn how to speak in an American accent. First the scammers would introduce themselves and detailing a purpose for the call. Then the scammers harassed victims to make immediate payments and threatened local police forces will get involved when victims refused.
Call centers in India have an unfortunate history of scamming Americans. Scammers have attempted to sell consumers fake virus and malware software and a variety of other computer tech support. Authorities in India also noticed a rise in India based call center scams targeting residents in their own country.
Doucet & Associates Co., L.P.A. are lawyers who can help stop unwanted robocalls, junk faxes and debt collection harassment. Contact us at (614)944-5219 today for assistance.
Beware of the IRS Lawsuit Scam
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) wants taxpayers to be aware of a phone scam claiming affiliation with the IRS. The criminal phone scam is contacting taxpayers with a message indicating that the IRS is filing a lawsuit against you and that immediate payment can prevent it.
The scammers are asking taxpayers to provide payment over the phone to help cancel the lawsuit and pay off debt. The scammers can modify their telephone numbers on caller ID to resemble numbers of the IRS so do not call back after receiving a voicemail. Hanging up on a related phone scam is advised.
Taxpayers may receive multiple calls from scammers posing as the IRS officials. Scams with repetitive actions are considered illegal robocalls. Any scam phone call can be reported to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Access the FTC Complaint Assistant by clicking here.
The scammers are violating traditional practices of the IRS. The real IRS will never demand immediate payment without notifying the taxpayer by mail first. Also the IRS never asks for credit or debit card information over the phone and never refuses other forms of payment. Taxpayers have the right to appeal and question the real IRS if an amount owed seems false.
The fraudulent IRS officials are bullying taxpayers into making payments over the phone. Do not feel frightened or threatened by scammers detailing law enforcement groups are going to get involved and possibly make an arrest. The real IRS does not authorize officials the ability to have taxpayers arrested over the phone.
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.
How to Stop Debt Collection Calls
Debt collection agencies use a wide range of tactics to collect on past-due accounts. Many are illegal, including:
• Threatening arrest or jail time; • Calling employers about the debt; • Robocalling or texting a cell phone; • Calling before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.; • Saying liens will be placed on income; • Threatening violence; • Telling a lie, misstating the debt; and • Mailing a letter with false information in it.
Consumer lawyer Troy Doucet of the Dublin-based law firm Doucet & Associates Co., L.P.A. says consumers have the right to stop collection calls and letters. He explains that the most straightforward method is to write a letter to the collector asking it to stop calling. Collectors must comply with any written demand. Thus, Doucet recommends you make a copy and send it certified mail. Debt collectors are not required to stop calling if the request is only over the phone – the cease and desist demand must be in writing.
Another way to stop the collection agency from calling is to retain a lawyer. The moment a collection agency is aware of legal representation it must immediately stop calling and instead work directly with the debtor’s attorney. There is no written requirement here – merely telling the collector you are represented by counsel ends their ability to contact you further. However, Doucet notes that you must tell them your attorney’s name and phone number when asked.
The federal law governing debt collectors is called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The law has considerable teeth, and the damages available to people under the law include requiring the collector to pay all attorneys’ fees and expenses. The law is designed so that any single violation of the law – including calling after a cease and desist letter is sent – triggers the law’s full protection and damages. Doucet recommends that anyone being harassed by a debt collector seek out legal representation. As he puts it, “going through a tough time in life does not give a debt collector the right to walk all over you.”
Have You Received a Junk Fax from a Business, or from Careworks?
Have you received a junk fax from Careworks offering to enroll your company in its workers’ compensation program? Have you received a junk fax from another company trying to sell you something? If so, please contact our law firm today.
Junk faxes are illegal. A company cannot use your fax machine, toner, paper, electricity, time, and wear to print their advertisements for them. If you have been on the receiving end of these annoying and illegal faxes, please call our law firm today at 614-944-5219. Please ask for Mr. Doucet.