Dan Graham claims that his phone is continually ringing and pinging. “I probably receive ten spam calls and messages every day on average,” Graham said of the number of spam calls and texts he receives. “I counted one day… That day, I received 24.”
He stated that the majority originate from fake phone numbers to sell insurance, extend warranties, and provide student debt forgiveness.
He has registered his phone number with the National Do Not Call Registry (DNC), which was established to prevent unsolicited commercial calls, but he claims this has had no effect.
Graham cannot disregard any unknown numbers because he spends his time between Dallas and Austin for business and travels frequently.
“With two young children and a wife who lives in another city, simply not answering the phone when I receive an unusual call is not an option, especially now that these individuals have begun spoofing phone numbers,” Graham added.
The financial accounting consultant filed complaints with the Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission but received no resolution.
“I began resisting. I would remain on the line until I identified the firm responsible, at which point I would submit a BBB complaint. I believe I made over two dozen BBB complaints and had no resolution, only more frustration,” he explained.
Graham filed his first case against a corporation that violated the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act in Travis County last April (TCPA).
“To counteract an increase in telephone marketing calls, Congress created the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) in 1991,” the Federal Communications Commission reports (FCC).
It prohibits telemarketing calls and the use of automatic dialing systems, prepared communications, and SMS messages.
The FCC stated in 2012 that it revised its rules to require telemarketers to “obtain prior express written consent from consumers before robocalling them, prohibit telemarketers from using an “established business relationship” to avoid obtaining consent from consumers when calling their home phones, and require telemarketers to provide an automated, interactive ‘opt-out’ mechanism during each robocall so consumers can immediately tell the telemarketer to snooze.”
Taking legal action against telemarketers
“It’s progressed from calls that say, ‘Hey, we want to sell you a car…we want to sell you insurance,’ to text messages that are, in my opinion, blatantly fraudulent.
‘You won an iPad,’ or ‘You won an iPhone,’ or ‘Your phone is contaminated, and you must download this anti-virus software,’ or something along those lines,” he stated.
Graham has filed around 50 small claims lawsuits in Travis County alone and numerous others in North Texas and claims to have received approximately $75,000 in settlements.
“Some have simply stated, ‘Hey, we don’t care.’ We will continue to do what we like.’ There is no apology, nothing. We’ve also taken another corporation to court, and their legal counsel phoned us and said, ‘First of all, thank you.
We are aware that you are suing us; however, we were unaware that our marketing affiliates engaged in this activity. We’ve dismissed them immediately and terminated the partnership.'”
He stated that perhaps ten businesses had altered their approach to this type of marketing.
“I truly believe that the legislation was created for situations like this; when we see that our regulators are overloaded and we are the ones receiving harassment, we can rise and do something about it,” Graham added.
Enforcement with vigour
In a recent report to Congress, the FTC stated that over 244 million customers had registered their phone numbers with the DNC registration over the last two years.
Additionally, the study stated over five million complaints in 2021, with most complaints being to robocall offenses.
According to the FTC, “imposter fraud and warranty protection scam calls ranked first on the list of frequently reported call subjects.”
According to the study, the FTC has received over 18,000 Do Not Call complaints relating to COVID since the epidemic began.
Last March, the FCC stated that it had begun significant enforcement steps. The FCC levied the agency’s highest penalties in history — a $225 million penalty against Texas telemarketers for illegally faking roughly 1 billion robocalls to sell short-term, limited-duration health insurance products.
According to the FDA, the robocalls made misleading claims about offering health insurance plans from reputable health insurance firms. Additionally, six-voice providers were sent with cease-and-desist letters for persistently violating restrictions governing the use of auto dialed and prerecorded voice message calls.
‘We might be able to make this type of unending spam costly.’
Graham has had some reprieve from the calls and texts received after the litigation.
“I’ll call the company, and they’ll say, ‘You know, you’ve been blocked,’ and I’ve gotten a lot of that. I’ve even had the telemarketer call back and say, ‘Hmm, it appears as though you’ve been banned,'” he explained. “I’ve also noticed a decline in some types of calls.”
Graham advised anybody receiving these calls or texts to contact the FTC, ascertain the firm behind them, and then write reviews and share their experiences on social media.
He stated that Travis County has made the filing procedure user-friendly, and much can be accomplished online.
“If consumers understood how to push back and began doing so, we might make this type of unending spam costly to those who perpetrate it,” he stated.
“My aim is that enough of us speak out and begin pushing back that it becomes more expensive for businesses to hire these telemarketers and engage in these telemarketing techniques carelessly… that it becomes more expensive to do so than the advantage they obtain.”