Have you ever received a continuous flow of pre-recorded phone calls? They usually come at the most inconvenient time during your day, and typically have to do with some sort of sales pitch, survey, or debt collection.
Well, a gentleman from Michigan took his annoyance to court, after receiving a slew of harassing phone calls from World Financial Network National Bank (WFNNB).
Dan Harris claimed he received 56 robo-calls to his cell phone about an outstanding debt, but Harris was the wrong person, and although he told the bank it was phoning the wrong person, the harassing phone calls didn't stop.
Harris opened a lawsuit and claimed the bank violated guidelines established by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and Michigan's Collection Practices Act (MCPA).
The TCPA passed by the Congress in 1991, and signed into law by President George H. W. Bush, disallows automated or prerecorded calls to be used when calling someone's cell phone, unless their prior consent is given.
Harris received a sum of 56 automated calls on his cell phone from Alliance Data Systems, that phoned on behalf of WFNNB. The bank claims one of its customers gave Harris's cell phone as a contact number, but admitted that Harris did in fact call to remedy the error.
Not only did Harris not have an outstanding debt with the bank, but he never was one of its customers and had no prior dealings with WFNNB. Between August 18 and October 26, 2010, Harris was autodialed 56 times before he decided to take both the bank and Alliance Data Systems to court.
The Michigan courts ruled in Harris's favor granting him $65,000 for harassing and incorrect phone calls, with the help of Michigan attorney Ian Lyngklip.
"It's a big win for consumers and puts banks and others in the collection business on notice once again that harassing phone calls will not be tolerated," said Lyngklip.
The complete amount granted was made up of $62,000 under the TCPA, and another $2,500 in legal fees, court costs, and damages under the MCPA guidelines.
The TCPA allows recovery damages that total $500 per wrongful call, and that amount is tripled in those cases of willful action. U.S. District Judge Sean F. Cox in Michigan, found that WFNNB violated the TCPA and "acted willfully" when it continued to call Harris's cell phone, even after he called and tried to correct the bank's mistake.
Moral of this story: Don't take harassing phone calls lying down, and familiarize yourself with your states calling laws. It could win you a bit of money, or at the very least stop you from being bothered by annoying phone calls.