Posted on

SCRIPPS MEMORIAL HOSPITAL VIOLATES WORKER’S COMPENSATION LAWS

  • Jared Hartman, Esq.
  • Posted on November 8, 2016

 

Getting hurt on the job can be a very traumatic event. Your life can be changed for the worse—not only are you physically hurt, but you risk not being able to perform your job duties any longer and you possibly risk losing your job completely. Depending on the injury, you may not be able to work in your industry at all any more. The lack of ability to provide for yourself and your family leads to emotional issues such as depression, anxiety, and feelings of self-doubt and loss of self-worth. The loss of income possibly results in losing your home to foreclosure due to an inability to pay your mortgage, which could also in turn result in strife within the marriage. All of your dreams and plans for the future are crushed.

Now add to all of these problems the fact that the medical provider has been relentlessly attempting to collect money from you for the medical services that were provided as a direct result of the workplace injury, even though you are struggling financially due to your loss of normal stream of income. Your worker’s compensation attorney sends the medical provider a letter informing them that their exclusive remedy is to file a claim for services with the worker’s compensation board and participate in that process. Your attorney also informs the medical provider that they are not to attempt to contact you directly anymore, because California Labor Code 3751(b) specifically prohibits them from collecting the bill for services from you directly.

Their responses to your attorney’s letter, however, is to retain an outside collection agency who then proceeds to continue collection efforts from you personally. They call you repeatedly at all hours of the day; they send you letters with ominous threatening language. They claim the debt is increasing because of interest and costs and fees, and they threaten that the debt is going to be a negative mark on your consumer credit report. All of this adds to your stress, anxiety, and depression because you thought you were protected and you thought they were going to faithfully comply with your attorney’s instructions to file a claim with the worker’s compensation board.

You lose sleep; you lose faith in the worker’s compensation process; you lose faith and trust in your attorney; you worry about how these bills are going to get paid; you worry about how you will be able to move forward with negative items on your credit report that you are not supposed to be responsible for….

Thankfully, you can go after these unscrupulous companies who are so quick to degrade you and ignore your rights!!

California Labor Code Sections 4600, 5300, 5304, and 5955 provide the basis that the worker’s compensation board has exclusive jurisdiction to handle payment of medical debts that are the subject of a workers’ compensation claim. In order for the medical provider and/or debt collector to seek reimbursement for their medical services, they must submit a claim to the workers’ compensation board so that the board can determine the appropriate amount of pay for the employer and/or employer’s insurance company to provide to the medical providers. If the medical provider and/or debt collector is not satisfied with the board’s ruling, then their sole remedy is to file a petition for reconsideration pursuant to California Labor Code § 5900 and then appellate review pursuant to California Labor Code § 5950.

However, California Labor Code § 3751(b) provides that medical providers shall not collect money directly from the employee for services to cure or relieve the effect of the injury for which a claim form, pursuant to Cal. Lab. Code § 5401, was filed, unless the medical provider has received written notice that liability for the injury has been rejected by the employer and the medical provider has provided a copy of this notice to the patient. Any medical provider who violates Cal. Lab. Code § 3751(b) shall be liable for three times the amount unlawfully collected, plus reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.

Semnar & Hartman, LLP regularly ties such unlawful debt collection tactics into a claim for either or both of the Federal or Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Acts, since those laws prohibit any attempt to collect an unauthorized amount in connection with consumer debts. Click HERE to review a complaint recently filed against Scripps Memorial Hospital and Progressive Management Systems for contacting the employee directly several times in complete disregard of a letter sent by the employee’s worker’s compensation attorney.

If you or a loved one are proceeding through a workers’ compensation board claim, but are still receiving debt collection bills and/or phone calls, please do not hesitate to contact us as soon as possible for a free, confidential consultation about your rights.

Posted on

BEING HARASSED BY CITY TITLE LOAN, LLC?

  • Jared Hartman, Esq.
  • Posted on November 1, 2016

 

Our law firm is investigating suspected internal policies of telephone harassment by City Title Loan, LLC and are looking for anyone who has received collection calls or letters by them for free and confidential consultations.

A lawsuit filed earlier this year alleges that City Title Loan employees used automatic dialing equipment to place a large volume of calls (in excess of 90 calls) to one of their customers over a period of just a few weeks in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Even though the customer repeatedly asked that the calls cease and asked for routine billing statements as proof of exactly what is owed (which are disclosures that federal law makes mandatory), the business not only refused to comply but also belittled him when threatening that the calls would continue.

The company also proceeded to call the customer’s elderly mother who is living with Parkinson’s disease and uttered threats of collection against her (even though she was only listed as a reference and not a co-obligor), and also threatened to the mother that they were looking to arrest the customer if he did not make a payment (which is false because failing to make a payment is only a breach of contract and is not subject to criminal charges). A copy of the complaint can be read by clicking HERE

Please rest assured, you do have rights! If you are facing collection efforts by City Title Loan (or any other title loan lender, payday lender, bank, creditor, or debt collector), please do not hesitate to contact us a free and confidential consultation to discuss whether your rights have been violated.

Posted on

WELLS FARGO PENALIZED OVER UNLAWFUL STUDENT LOAN SERVICING PRACTICES

  • Jared Hartman, Esq.
  • Posted on August 28, 2016

 

On August 22, 2016, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) entered into a consent order with Wells Fargo over the manner in which Wells Fargo has been unlawfully handling its student loan servicing practices. The CFPB is a federal government agency that is tasked with investigating unlawful and unfair practices that creditors, banks, and debt collectors engage in with respect towards consumers. If violations are discovered and alleged, the CFPB has the power to issue a wide array of penalties that could include ordering a business to close its operations. Needless to say, when the CFPB sets its targets on a financial entity, the company should be in fear.

On August 22, 2016, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) entered into a consent order with Wells Fargo over the manner in which Wells Fargo has been unlawfully handling its student loan servicing practices. The CFPB is a federal government agency that is tasked with investigating unlawful and unfair practices that creditors, banks, and debt collectors engage in with respect towards consumers. If violations are discovered and alleged, the CFPB has the power to issue a wide array of penalties that could include ordering a business to close its operations. Needless to say, when the CFPB sets its targets on a financial entity, the company should be in fear.

Before we discuss specifics, it is important to note that inquiries remain on the consumer’s credit reports for two years. Soft inquiries will have less of an effect on the consumer’s credit score than hard ones. So what’s the difference?

  • Processing payments in a way that maximized fees owed by consumers. Specifically, if a borrower made a payment that was not enough to cover the total amount due for all loans in an account, Wells Fargo divided that payment across the loans in a way that maximized late fees rather than satisfying payments for some of the loans. The bank failed to adequately disclose to consumers how it allocated payments across multiple loans, and that consumers have the ability to provide instructions for how to allocate payments to the loans in their account. As a result, consumers were unable to effectively manage their student loan accounts and minimize costs and fees.
  • Billing statements misrepresenting to consumers that paying less than the full amount due in a billing cycle would not satisfy any obligation on an account. In reality, for accounts with multiple loans, partial payments may satisfy at least one loan payment in an account. This misinformation could have deterred borrowers from making partial payments that would have satisfied at least one of the loans in their account, allowing them to avoid certain late fees or delinquency.
  • Illegally charging late fees even though timely payments had been made. Specifically, charging illegal late fees to payments made on the last day of their grace periods, and also charging illegal late fees to certain students who elected to pay their monthly amount due through multiple partial payments instead of one single payment.
  • Failing to update and correct inaccurate, negative information reported to credit reporting agencies about certain borrowers who have made partial payments or overpayments.

For these unlawful practices, Wells Fargo must pay at least $410,000.00 to consumers as compensation for illegal collection fees and late fees, and must allocate partial payments made by a borrower in a manner that satisfies the amount due for as many of the loans as possible, unless the borrower directs otherwise. Wells Fargo must also provide consumers with improved disclosures in billing statements, which must explain how the bank applies and allocates payments and how borrowers can direct payments to any of the loans in their student loan account. Wells Fargo must also remove any negative student loan information that has been inaccurately or incompletely provided to a consumer reporting agency. Wells Fargo must also pay a $3.6 million penalty to the CFPB’s Civil Penalty Fund.

The CFPB’s consent order can be ready by clicking HERE.

Clearly, this is not a light slap on the wrist that banks typically believe they should get, and this strong action by the CFPB should hopefully send a clear message to Wells and other financial institutions that they must take consumer rights very seriously and respect consumers as human beings instead of just another financial account on the books.

If you or a loved one have concerns over any account being serviced or owned by Wells Fargo, please do not hesitate to contact our law firm for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

Posted on

BEEN HARASSED BY LVNV FUNDING, LLC OR ITS COLLECTION AGENTS?

  • Jared Hartman, Esq.
  • Posted on May 23, 2016

 

LVNV Funding, LLC is a Las Vegas based “debt buyer”—an entity that regularly purchases defaulted (and often charged-off) debts from other entities, and then either attempts to collect the debt itself or retains an outside servicing agent to collect on their behalf. The circumstances under which LVNV operates renders them subject to mandatory compliance with the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Recently, a jury in Baltimore returned a verdict and damages award of $38 million dollars on a class action alleging that LVNV Funding violated the laws by filing lawsuits, obtaining judgments, and garnishing consumers’ wages in Maryland even though it was not licensed to operate as a debt collector under Maryland law. The damages award also encompasses the profits that LVNV Funding received from the illicitly obtained money by investing the money in other avenues and reaping profits therefrom. A news story and interview of the plaintiffs’ lawyer can be found here: http://www.wbaltv.com/money/jury-hits-debt-collector-with-38m-judgment/39657226.

Also, the law firm of Semnar & Hartman, LLP has teamed up with Mashiri Law Firm to file a proposed class action against LVNV Funding and its servicing debt collector J.C. Christensen & Associates, Inc. based on the deceptive manner the two have been attempting to collect debts from California consumers on debts that are so old they cannot be sued upon. The allegation is that LVNV and J.C. Christensen tells the consumers in their letters that the debt is so old they won’t be sued, but also offers three “settlement options” for the consumer to agree to pay the outstanding debt for less than the full balance. But the deception occurs because the debt collectors are not informing the consumers that, under California law, accepting any of the three “settlement options” creates a new contract with a new statute of limitations for them to sue the consumer upon if the consumer fails to pay the “settlement option” in full as agreed. Therefore, the consumer would actually be in a worse position than they would already be in if they agree to any of the “settlement options” but cannot actually pay the agreed amount in full. The complaint can be read by clicking HERE.

If you or a loved one have been contacted by either LVNV Funding, LLC or any of its debt collectors, please do not hesitate to contact us immediately for a free and confidential consultation to discuss whether your rights have been violated.

Posted on

STUDENT LOAN GIANT NAVIENT SOLUTIONS, INC. IS ONCE AGAIN IN BOILING HOT WATER OVER ITS DEBT COLLECTION PRACTICES.

  • Jared Hartman, Esq.
  • Posted on April 17th, 2016

 

On April 6, 2016, in the case of McCaskill v. Navient Solutions, Inc. in the US District Court, Middle District of Florida, Case No. 15-cv-1559, the Court granted a motion for partial summary judgment as to liability in favor of the consumer-plaintiff based on Navient calling his cell phone with an automatic telephone dialing system upwards of 727 times.

As we all know, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) prohibits a company from placing calls to a cell phone by using equipment that has the capacity to store and generate numbers to be dialed at random, and also if the calls are placed with robotic or pre-recorded voice messages. The only way for a company to not be found in violation of the TCPA for these calls is if the calls were placed for emergency purposes, or with the consumer’s prior express consent.

Because these calls were placed for purpose of debt collection, they were not for an emergency purpose. However, the issue in the lawsuit was with respect to prior express consent. Because Navient obtained the phone number through a public records search and did not get the number from Plaintiff voluntarily providing it to them, and because Navient failed to prove that she gave authority to another person to use her number for this Navient account, then Navient lost on summary judgment (meaning the evidence was so overwhelmingly in favor of the Plaintiff that Navient could not defend its case on liability in front of a jury).

Therefore, the Plaintiff in this case has now been awarded liability against Navient for upwards of 727 violations of the TCPA at $500 per call, for damages of $363,500.00. The motion for summary judgment left open for a jury to determine whether the violations by Navient were willful. If a jury does find the violations were willful, then the Court could impose triple damages in Plaintiff’s favor, thereby awarding her upwards of $1,090,500.00.

This court’s ruling can be read by clicking HERE.

Below are some very important points to be taken from the Court’s ruling:

  1. Defendants identify no facts suggesting that Plaintiff knowingly released her cell phone number to [Navient]. Indeed, Defendants point to no evidence that Plaintiff had any contact with Defendants prior to receiving their calls. Defendants instead argue that Plaintiff manifested her consent by allowing her phone to ring over 700 times without attempting to stop the calls. (Doc. # 97 at 12). The Court is not persuaded. The statute requires “express consent,” 47 U.S.C. § 227(b)(1)(A), and Plaintiff’s silence in the face of 727 phone calls demonstrates, at best, presumed or implied consent, which is not sufficient under the statute. In the Matter of Rules & Regulations Implementing the Tel. Consumer Prot. Act of 1991, 30 FCC Rcd. 7961, 7991 (2015).1
  2. Defendants also suggest that there is a “significant question” about whether the -6140 number is exclusively Plaintiff’s to use, and thus whether it is a number for which Plaintiff may provide consent. (Doc. # 97 at 12). The TCPA requires prior express consent to be supplied by “the called party.” 47 U.S.C. 227(b)(1)(A). The Eleventh Circuit holds that “the called party” is the current subscriber of the cell phone, not the intended recipient of the call. Breslow v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 755 F.3d 1265, 1267 (11th Cir. 2014)Osorio v. State Farm Bank, F.S.B., 746 F.3d 1242, 1251–52 (11th Cir. 2014). More specifically, the subscriber is “the person who pays the bills or needs the line in order to receive other calls.” Osorio, 746 F.3d 1251. Similarly, the FCC recently defined “called party” as “the subscriber, i.e., the consumer assigned the telephone number dialed and billed for the call, or the non-subscriber customary user of a telephone number included in a family or business calling plan.” In the Matter of Rules & Regulations Implementing the Tel. Consumer Prot. Act of 1991, 30 FCC Rcd. at 8000-01.
  3. Defendants point out that Plaintiff used the -6140 number as her residential line for years and also listed it as the phone number for LFJ on her 1999 application to incorporate the church. (Doc. # 97 at 11-12). These facts, while undisputed, are not directly relevant to whether Plaintiff is the “subscriber,” that is, the person who pays the bills for the number or who is the customary user of the number. Osorio, 746 F.3d 1251; In the Matter of Rules & Regulations Implementing the Tel. Consumer Prot. Act of 1991, 30 FCC Rcd. at 8000-01.
  4. Plaintiff testified that the bill for the -6140 number goes to her daughter Melissa, because she is on a family plan, but that Plaintiff pays her part of the bill. (Pl. Dep. at 24). Plaintiff also testified that she uses the phone both for herself and for LFJ, for which she is the pastor. (Id. at 43). Because Defendants cite no evidence indicating that another person pays the bills or is the customary user of the -6140 number, Defendants fail to create an issue of fact as to whether Plaintiff is “the called party” under 47 U.S.C. 227(b)(1)(A).
  5. Because there is no evidence that Plaintiff, herself, provided prior express consent, the remaining question is whether Newsome consented on Plaintiff’s behalf. In particular, Defendants must establish that Newsome had authority to consent on Plaintiff’s behalf, and that Newsome did, in fact, consent. Osorio, 746 F.3d at 1252. Defendants argue that disputed issues of material fact exist sufficient to preclude summary judgment in Plaintiff’s favor. The Court disagrees.
  6. Taking Defendants’ version of the facts as true, Newsome may have confirmed Plaintiff’s cell phone number to Sallie Mae (a point that Plaintiff vehemently disputes). Under Florida law, however, Newsome’s conduct is not sufficient to create an apparent agency relationship absent some evidence that Plaintiff tolerated, allowed, or acknowledged Newsome’s conduct.
  7. Accordingly, Defendants fail to establish a genuine issue of material fact regarding whether any of the 727 calls were made with Plaintiff’s prior express consent. As already noted, Defendants do not otherwise dispute that these 727 calls constitute violations of the TCPA. Accordingly, Plaintiff’s Motion for Partial Summary Judgment as to Defendants’ liability on the TCPA claims (Counts I and III) is granted.

If you or a loved one is receiving calls from Navient to collect on a student loan, then please do not hesitate to contact us for a free and confidential consultation

Posted on

NAVIENT CORP UNDER SCRUTINY ABOUT POSSIBLY CHEATING MILITARY SERVICEMEMBERS ON FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS

  • Jared Hartman, Esq.
  • Posted on March 23, 2016

 

On March 1, 2016, Huffington Post Chief Financial and Regulatory Correspondent Shahien Nasiripour published an article that alleges the public was misled about whether Navient Corp. (under its former name Sallie Mae) violated the U.S. Servicemembers Civil Relief Act by intentionally and systematically overcharging troops on student loans for nearly a decade by failing to lower interest rates to 6% as required by the federal law. Nasiripuor writes that an internal investigation shows, “In Navient’s case, the department improperly credited the company for modifying some troops’ loans when records show that the interest rate reductions had been backdated.” He further writes,”DOJ data strongly suggested that the Education Department missed thousands of violations of federal law when it publicly exonerated Navient” and “In November, another official at the federal consumer bureau said that hundreds of thousands of troops have been forced to make at least $100 million in student loan interest payments that they actually were exempt from.”

Mr. Nasiripour’s March 1, 2016 article can be read by clicking here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/education-department-misled-public-on-student-loan-contractors-probe_us_56d5d2a7e4b0bf0dab337e33.

Previously, on February 7, 2016, Mr. Nasiripour published an article that quotes current Democratic Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton as stating that Navient Corp. is “doing some really terrible things” by “misleading” borrowers, and that Navient’s “behavior is outrageous” and she is “totally appalled” by the company. To put these statements into context, Nasiripour further wrote,

“Numerous government agencies have been investigating the nation’s largest student loan specialist over several years for allegedly overcharging borrowers and mistreating them in violation of the law. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in August told Navient, which collects borrowers’ monthly payments and counsels them on their repayment options, that it had amassed enough evidence to indicate the company violated consumer protection laws, and it might sue the company in court.”

Additionally, “New York state’s banking regulator and a group of state attorneys general are among the authorities probing Navient’s interactions with borrowers, such as its practice of threatening to seize assets from borrowers in good standing simply because a co-signer of their loan had died.”

Mr. Nasiripour’s March 1, 2016 article can be read by clicking here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/hillary-clinton-navient_us_56b7a886e4b01d80b246b214

If you or a loved one are experiencing unfairness, harassment, or oppression from Navient Corp., please do not hesitate to contact us for a free, confidential consultation to discuss whether your rights may have been violated.

Posted on

KNOWLEDGE IS POWER – KNOW YOUR RIGHTS

  • Jared Hartman, Esq.
  • Posted on February 25, 2016

 

It can be a very intimidating and worrisome experience to be the subject of debt collectors’ aggressive tactics. It is common to experience nervousness, fear, worry, fluttering of the heart with a rise in heart rate and blood pressure, and if the debt collector treats you with indignity you may also feel emotions of anger, embarrassment, shame, and fear. It is common in the debt collection industry for debt collectors to deliberately force their victims into paying the debt by invoking these feelings. The reasoning is that you are more likely to pay the debt if you feel uncomfortable by the interaction, thinking that if you pay them then they will go away. But you do have rights! As is clear from other blog articles on our website, you have the right to be protected from abuse, harassment, oppression, lies, and misrepresentations! Don’t take this lightly, your rights are powerful and you can use them as a shield to deflect the abuse.

The Fair Trade Commission (FTC) has recently put out some very helpful blog articles with videos to explain your rights. In one article, the FTC empowers people to stand up against scam artists. These FTC articles can be found here: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/stand-fake-debt-collectors and https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0258-fake-debt-collectors.

Unfortunately, there are plenty of criminals out there that are more than happy to lie about who they are when they pretend to be a legit debt collector, but in reality they are simply trying to take your money through extortion. The most common trick by these con artists is to lie about suing you when there really is no lawsuit pending, and also to lie about police looking for you for committing fraud when in reality failing to pay a debt is a civil breach of contract matter and not a criminal violation. Many times, these con artists also get your employers’ information from public records and credit report inquiries, and they call your place of employment to spread these lies to your boss and co-workers in order to put pressure on you.

The FTC empowers consumers by giving the following advice:

  • Ask the caller for his name, company, street address, and telephone number. Tell the caller you won’t discuss any debt until you get a written “validation notice.” If the caller refuses, don’t pay.
  • Put your request in writing. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) requires any debt collector to stop calling if you ask in writing. Of course, if the debt is real, sending such a letter does not get rid of the debt, but it should stop the contact.
  • Don’t give or confirm any personal, financial, or other sensitive information.
  • Contact your creditor. If a debt is legitimate – but you think the collector isn’t — contact the company to which you owe the money.
  • Report the call. File a complaint with the FTC and your state Attorney General’s office with information about suspicious callers

If you are the subject of debt collection efforts by a legit debt collector, then you still have rights! We find the most common examples of debt collection abuse by legit debt collectors are when they misrepresent the amount you owe, try to collect interest and fees that they are not entitled to, threaten lawsuits when the debt is already barred by statute of limitations, calling at inconvenient times and/or calling with such frequency that the calls are harassing, and inaccurate credit reporting. If you are the subject of debt collection efforts, then you should still take steps to protect yourself by asking for details of who they are, where they are calling from, how did they acquire the debt, when did they acquire the debt, and from whom did they acquire the debt. The FTC has also put out an article giving similar advice, which can be found here: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0149-debt-collection.

In addition to the above, you should also not hesitate to contact a consumer protection attorney, such as us at Semnar & Hartman, LLP, for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights and to see if a lawsuit can be filed on your behalf.

Posted on

NEW TCPA RULES ISSUED BY FCC – HUGE VICTORIES FOR CONSUMERS

  • Jared Hartman, Esq.
  • Posted on July 22, 2015

 

Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel: “I detest robo-calls. We receive thousands of complaints a month about robo-calls, and our friends across town at the Federal Trade Commission receive tens of thousands more.”

“We applaud the FCC for upholding the essential protections in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, a key consumer law,” said National Consumer Law Center attorney Margot Saunders. “The industry petitions [requests from companies to protect their interests over consumers’] would have exposed consumers to a tsunami of unwanted robocalls and texts to their cell phones.”

“We applaud the FCC for holding the line to keep the plague of unwanted robocalls from becoming even worse,” added Susan Grant, director of Consumer Protection and Privacy at Consumer Federation of America.

The TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act, at 47 U.S.C. 227) is a statute that prohibits, among other things, unwanted telephone calls with automatic telephone dialing systems, robot messages, and/or pre-recorded voice messages without consent and without emergency purposes, as well as junk faxes and telemarketers calling people who are registered on the “Do Not Call List”. See our page titled “Phone Calls (TCPA Video)” for more detailed information on the statute.

By statute, the FCC has authority to issue rules that interpret and apply the statute itself. The courts are bound to follow the FCC rulings as if they were the statute themselves. Over the years, there has been much heavily-contested litigation over many of the grey areas within the statute and FCC rulings themselves. However, on July 10, 2015, the FCC released its newest ruling and order that clarifies a lot of these grey areas. Many of the rulings are very beneficial to consumers who wish to put a stop to the unwanted harassment that companies engage in.

Consent must be provided by the current subscriber or regular user of the phone number:

“The new user of a reassigned phone number shouldn’t have to put up with being abused by callers for the old user of the phone number,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.

One of the hotly-contested issues over the years has occurred when a company intends to call one person who had previously given consent to the company for TCPA purposes, but the company inadvertently calls the wrong person who has since received the first person’s phone number. Courts throughout the country have issued differing rulings, with some courts ruling that the company has no liability when it intends to call a person who had previously given consent while other courts have ruled that the person who is the current subscriber is the only person who can consent to be called upon the phone number at issue. The FCC has issued its ruling in favor of the consumers on this issue.

One of the hotly-contested issues over the years has occurred when a company intends to call one person who had previously given consent to the company for TCPA purposes, but the company inadvertently calls the wrong person who has since received the first person’s phone number. Courts throughout the country have issued differing rulings, with some courts ruling that the company has no liability when it intends to call a person who had previously given consent while other courts have ruled that the person who is the current subscriber is the only person who can consent to be called upon the phone number at issue. The FCC has issued its ruling in favor of the consumers on this issue.

This requirement of consent also applies to the person who is the primary user of the phone number but is not the subscriber on paper. For instance, if the wife regularly uses the phone number that was issued in her husband’s name, then the consent must have been given by the wife as the regular user of the number.

Prior express consent can be revoked via any reasonable means:

Another hotly-contested issue over the years is whether a consumer can revoke consent that had previously been given. Again, courts throughout the country have been divided—with some courts ruling that consent cannot be revoked after once having been given, other courts ruling that consent must be revoked in writing, while other courts ruling that consent can be revoked verbally at any time.

The FCC has once again ruled in favor of consumers. A consumer can revoke consent for TCPA purposes at any time and via any method that is reasonable. That means simply telling the company one time over the phone to stop calling is valid and effective to trigger TCPA liability on every call thereafter. But be careful: as soon as the company asks if they can call you back on your current number and you agree, then consent might have just been renewed. It is best to insist that all communications be in writing, and that any letter from you that requests all calls to cease be delivered via fax or certified mail for proof of delivery, so that there is never any ambiguity or question as to whether consent was revoked.

Additionally, it is important to note that the FCC has denied one company’s request that it allow the company’s to control how consent can be revoked. It is clear that no company, for TCPA purposes, can dictate how revocation can be lodged by the consumer—even if the contract that gave rise to a debt is agreed to by the consumer and that contract gives direction on exactly how the company will accept revocation, then TCPA liability still exists even if the consumer gives revocation in a manner different than how the company has dictated in its contract.

Additionally, it is important to note that the FCC has denied one company’s request that it allow the company’s to control how consent can be revoked. It is clear that no company, for TCPA purposes, can dictate how revocation can be lodged by the consumer—even if the contract that gave rise to a debt is agreed to by the consumer and that contract gives direction on exactly how the company will accept revocation, then TCPA liability still exists even if the consumer gives revocation in a manner different than how the company has dictated in its contract.

An automatic telephone dialing system is one that has the capacity to act as an auto-dialer, even if not used for that purpose:

The TCPA prohibits calls from being placed with an “automatic telephone dialing system” (also known as an ATDS) to a cell phone, when there is no consent or emergency purpose. Note that these types of calls do not trigger liability when the call is placed to a landline….only calls to a landline with robot messages and/or pre-recorded voice messages trigger TCPA liability.

There has been heavy litigation over the years as to what triggers liability under this prong of the TCPA. Many companies use machines that have the capability to act as an ATDS, but claim that an agent manually-dialed the number at the time of calling the consumer. It is now unequivocally clear that the FCC has ruled that such calls are still in violation of the TCPA. An ATDS is now unquestionably defined as dialing equipment that generally has the capacity to store or produce and then dial random or sequential numbers even if it is not presently used for that purpose. Also a “predictive dialer” meets the definition of an ATDS, as it is equipment with the capacity to store or produce and then dial random or sequential numbers, even though the dialer predicts when a sales agent will be available to be subsequently dialed by the equipment to then connect with the consumer who answered the initial call by the dialer.

As it always has, the TCPA provides victims of such unwanted calls a minimum of $500.00 per call as strict liability, and possibly $1,500.00 per call for willful violations. If you or a loved one are fed up with the abusive calls lodged by companies on a daily basis, do not hesitate to contact us for a free, confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

Posted on

HARASSING PHONE CALLS BY WELLS FARGO MORTGAGE

  • Jared Hartman, Esq.
  • Posted on April 28th, 2015

 

Semnar & Hartman, LLP is currently investigating claims against Wells Fargo Mortgage regarding harassing telephone calls in connection with their collection of mortgage payments. It is believe that Wells Fargo places harassing robo-calls, autodialed calls, and/or calls with pre-recorded and/or artificial voice messages to consumers who have not previously consented to receive such calls for purposes of collecting upon mortgage payments. In most instances, robocalls and robo text messages violate the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), and generally each violations allows for $500 to $1,500 per violation.

If you or a loved one has received such calls and/or text messages from Wells Fargo Mortgage, we invite you to please contact us for a free and confidential consultation.

TCPA Protections Against Unconsented Robocalls, Autodialed calls, and text messages

The TCPA became law in 1991, putting restrictions on automated calls, autodialed calls, calls with pre-recorded and/or artificial voice messages, and text messages, whether sent for debt collection or telemarketing purposes. In most circumstances, an entity must have a person’s prior express consent in order to make automated or prerecorded calls or text messages. See our “Phone calls” webpage or blog postings regarding TCPA violations for more detailed information.

If you or a loved one have received robocalls or text messages from Wells Fargo Mortgage, we encourage you to fill out our contact form so that we can evaluate your rights. We have experience handling alleged TCPA violations and are committed to providing you answers while holding institutions like Wells Fargo Mortgage accountable. We look forward to speaking with you.