The Wells Fargo Bank has agreed to pay more than $16 million in a settlement for a proposed class action that alleges they made calls on cell phones using automatic telephone dialing systems without their customers’ permission.
The plaintiffs are Steven L. Markos, Tiffany Davis and Gregory Page. According to their complaint, Wells Fargo violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, or TCPA.
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) has set down guidelines on when and how to contact consumers, especially when using automated telephone equipment. When these guidelines are not followed, it is seen as violation of the Act. The TCPA prohibits the use of automated equipment for making calls, unless it is with the express permission of the individual being called.
There are several exceptions to this rule; however, the calls made by Wells Fargo Bank were non-emergency ones. They were debt collection calls and those made in connection with mortgage loans, says the lawsuit, filed in April 2015 in the U.S. District Court for Northern District of Georgia.
The settlement was negotiated with the help of a private mediator who is said to work closely on class action cases. As part of the settlement, the Bank will pay a non-reversionary sum of $16,319,000, to be distributed after deductions for cost of notice, claims administration, and Court-awarded attorneys’ fees and costs on a pro rata basis to the Class Members who file qualified claims. Based on this, the expected per class member cash award may range from $25 to $75.
What the TCPA stipulates
The TCPA prohibits telephone solicitations, including telemarketing and use of automated telephone equipment. Going into detail, the Act limits the use of automatic dialing systems and artificial or prerecorded voice messages. This also includes the use of SMS text messages and fax machines for the purpose of communicating marketing messages.
The Act specifies detailed requirements for using automated equipment when making calls. These are provisions that outline identification and other information of the entity making the call. The Act also prohibits making calls to residential numbers using automated equipment, unless the called person has expressed prior consent to receiving it, or if it is an emergency.
There are other circumstances exempted by the Federal Communications Commission. When violations occur, the law has provisions permitting the injured to initiate a lawsuit as well as recover damages ranging from $500 to $1500 per violation.
The Legal Perspective
Despite different laws existing to protect consumers, violations are commonplace. However, if consumers are aware, problems can be averted without hassles. While the law can appear complicated to somebody not conversant with it, legal help is available to those who seek it.
In this present case, debt was incurred when the banking relationship started between the entities involved. As a result, cell phone numbers were provided and this action could get interpreted as express consent. Further, even the term of the ‘transaction’ could be interpreted differently, especially the time period when the phone number was provided.
In the case of such conflicting information and applicable legalities, it is in the best interest of the consumer to seek legal help from experts. Legal expertise also cuts through uncertainties and lack of clarity to ensure that relief is certain and immediate.
Legal Rights Advocates, PLLC is a law firm that specializes in helping clients who are facing harassment from debt collectors in any form, including telephone communication. 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.
If you are a consumer interested in learning more about how to safeguard yourself better with FDCPA and TCPA laws, call us at (855) 254-7841 for immediate assistance.