One of the key provisions in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) is that there are specific guidelines on contacting people on auto dialers and systems that have voice messaging enabled. When these are not adhered to, it can amount to harassment. Consumers could be within their rights to seek out legal help and even press a lawsuit against a caller when this happens.
The JP Morgan Chase Bank NA (Chase) case
In October 2015, it was alleged that Chase had violated TCPA provisions in using auto dialers to make calls to cellular telephone numbers. These numbers, which belonged to Chase customers previously, were reassigned to new subscribers, thus negating any express consent from the call recipient. All in all, it was seen that the bank had called as many as 675,000 unique cellular telephone numbers associated with its deposit accounts business line during the period of 1 January 2014 through 22 March 2016.
However, Chase denied that its practice of calling the cellphone consumers violated TCPA.
The parties involved in the lawsuit were told by the court in February 2016 to engage in mediation to arrive at a resolution. While the mediation session did not immediately settle the case, there were some commonly agreed-upon premises, including Chase’s defense.
- The calls that Chase made to wrong numbers between January 2014 through March 2016 were noted as such to prevent further calls from being made to them.
- Some of the calls made by Chase were done to inform customers about potential fraud on their accounts.
- Chase maintained that it ensured compliance with the TCPA and that any violation was entirely unintentional.
There were some risks to the plaintiffs as well since some of the claims put up by them could have been dismissed under exemptions of the TCPA. Also, the defense put up by Chase were valid.
Chase has agreed to pay $3.75 million in resolution of the proposed class action. The amount will make it to a non-reversionary common fund of $3.75 million and direct mail notice to all class members who are known.
Of this, participating members will get their share, pro-rata basis and after deduction of expenses. Historically, claim rates in TCPA cases fall between 4-6% approximately. Given this, it is likely that each of the participating class members would receive between $45 and $75. This estimate excludes expenses, including attorney fees.
Harassment can take several forms. When it comes to unsolicited telephone communication, the TCPA has laid down several provisions for solicitors to follow when contacting those who owe them debt.
If these are not complied with stringently, consumers can and will seek legal help. The TCPA allows for up to $500 per violation of its provisions. Further, consumers can sue for up to three times the damage, if the violation is willful.
However, in the current case, there were significant risks to the plaintiffs:
- At the time of the settlement, the Supreme Court had not issued a ruling in Spokeo v. Robins. Had this ruling been passed and been adverse, the plaintiff’s claims would have been removed altogether.
- A Declaratory Ruling and Order (“2015 FCC Order”) was being weighed by the DC Circuit Court of Appeals at the time of the settlement. Had the Circuit Court taken an adverse action, the plaintiff’s claims would have been affected negatively.
Even then, these lawsuits do have the potential to set a precedent for TCPA compliance in terms of connecting with genuine debt defaulters and those who have not given consent to be contacted.
Legal Rights Advocates, PLLC is a law firm that specializes in helping clients who are being harassed by debt collectors. Our team of attorneys over the years has helped countless clients get protections from debt collection practices that are deemed as unlawful and illegal under the FDCPA and TCPA laws. Call us at (855) 254-7841 for immediate assistance to put an end to debt collection harassment.