A citizen harassed by auto-dialed robo-calls on his cell phone about a debt he never owed has won his lawsuit in federal court. The citizen charged the bank with a violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and Michigan's Collection Practices Act (MCPA).
The TCPA prohibits calls to a person's cell phone using an automatic telephone dialing system or using a prerecorded or artificial voice message without that person's express consent.
Dan Harris said he received 56 robo-calls on his cell phone intended for another person from Alliance Data Systems, acting on behalf of World Financial Network National Bank (WFNNB). Alliance and WFNNB claimed that one of its customers had given Harris's cell phone number to them, but admitted that Harris informed them of the error shortly after they began calling.
Harris sued because he never owed WFNNB any money and never had any business dealings with the bank. Nevertheless WFNNB and Alliance repeatedly autodialed his cell phone after learning of the mistake. WFNNB and Alliance admitted calling Harris's cell phone 56 times from August 18 to October 26, 2010.
Michigan Consumer Protection attorney Ian Lyngklip represented Harris in the case. Lyngklip, senior member of Lyngklip & Associates Consumer Law Center, filed a motion for summary judgment on September 22, 2011).
The TCPA allows for recovery of damages of up to $500 per call, and triple judgment in case of willful actions. The Court in Harris's case found that WFNNB violated the TCPA and acted willfully when it refused to stop calling Harris's cell phone.
Lyngklip said, "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."
Harris will collect $62,500 under the TCPA and an additional $2,500 in damages plus court costs and legal fees to be determined under the MCPA.