Yes Virginia, You Can (And Should) Sue Telemarketers
Posted by Pile
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|When André-Tascha Lammé was granted a judgment of $3,500 last month in a Sacramento, Calif., small claims court, he heard gasps.|
“You could hear people in the courtroom saying, ‘You can sue telemarketers?’” he said. You can. In fact, you can make some decent cash for your trouble.
Lammé started getting pelted with calls from mortgage brokers last year, just as his adjustable rate mortgage was about to reset. Like many consumers, he quickly reached the boiling point over the frequent interruptions. But unlike many consumers, the computer programmer took the time to educate himself – perhaps owing to the spirit of his grandmother, a lawyer for several decades – and quickly discovered the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
“It specifically deals with unwanted calls,” he said. “For each violation, there is a $500 penalty.” Who gets that money? The call recipient. Lammé read on and found he didn’t have to hire a high-priced attorney to pursue the penalty fees – he could file the case himself.
So far, Lammé has won $6,000 in judgments against telemarketers in three cases. He's not a lawyer, but by filing in small claims court, he's spent no more than $100 in court fees and scarcely more than an hour of his time on any case. Now he wants you to do it, too.
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991, signed into law by George Bush the elder, led to creation of the ragingly popular Do Not Call List. But tucked away in the bill was another important provision that entitles consumers to take what's called a "private right of action." For each violation of the act, consumers can sue for a $500 penalty. Violations include calling after a consumer has told a company to stop, or failing to provide the consumer with a copy of the firm’s Do Not Call policy.