Yes, you really can make robocallers and phone spammers (such as these scam warranty calls) pay you good money. That’s because it’s illegal under Federal law for them to call a mobile phone, and they know it, and they also know what the fines and penalties are if it goes to court. As a result, if you know what you are doing, you can get them to pay you off because they don’t want to go to court and risk the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and other law enforcement agencies finding out what they are doing.
The law is known as the Telecommunications Privacy Act (TCPA) and that, along with the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR), make robocalling a cell phone (and in some instances a land line) illegal. And these phone spammers (the robocallers and robotexters) know that what they are doing is illegal. (Why do you think they use fake caller ID?)
Ok, so got the picture so far? These slimy robocallers know that what they are doing (calling you) is illegal.
What you need to know about the law that they are breaking, and what they already know about the law that they are breaking, is that there are essentially automatic penalties built into the law that mean that for every time someone robocalls or robotexts you, if you sued them you would almost automatically get $500 for each call, and up to $1,500 for each call that is “willfully” in violation of the TCPA.
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There have been several notable cases under the TCPA, including a lawsuit against Dish Network where the judge awarded the class of plaintiffs $341million, and against Domino’s Pizza, who settled for nearly $10million. So these robocallers know that the courts are not friendly towards them.
And because what is “willful” is up to the court in each case, meaning that for each time the robocaller called you, a court could hit them up for as much as $1,500 per call, the robocaller has good incentive to settle out of court with you.
You just need to know what to say to them, and how to do it. Here’s how.
How to Shake Down Robocallers and Robotexters for Fun and Profit
[Note: The following is personally written by our Editor and Publisher, Anne P. Mitchell. Anne is the Dean of Cyber Law and Cyber Security at Lincoln Law School in San Jose, and a noted industry lawyer. She also wrote part of our Federal anti-spam law. She is writing this personally so that readers know that she endorses both the following method generally, and the linked-to kit to help you get started getting money from those damned robocallers.]
Basically, the way to get robocallers to cough up money for having called you looks like this (don’t worry if you have no idea how to do these steps, the kit that I am going to recommend walks you through it, and even provides templates):
1. Elicit identifying information from the caller (yes, this does require you to interact with them, you can shower afterwards).
2. Do some basic Internet research to determine who is behind the call.
3. Send them a demand letter, citing the law and how much they would have to pay if you sued them (remember, they know that they are breaking the law, and they know what those penalties are), and then offering to settle for $X (what $X is will depend on how many times they called you, and how much they ticked you off).
4. Receive a check from them. Seriously, it works!
The first thing you need to do is go to the Federal Do Not Call Registry even if you have already registered your phone number. If you have not registered your phone number with the Do Not Call (DNC) registry, do so. If you have already registered your phone number, choose the “Verify Your Registration” option, which will email you a confirmation of the date that you registered your phone number.
The reason for making sure that your number is on the DNC registry, and knowing the exact date that it was registered, is because having your number on the registry helps demonstrate that the calls were ‘willful’, because telemarketers are required to check the DNC and to not call or text numbers on the DNC. And remember that this means that they could be on the hook for up to $1,500 per call if they were taken to court. This is your leverage to get them to settle! (And it works.) Note: There is a 30 day grace period once you register your number on the DNC. That is why it is important to know the exact date on which you placed your phone number on the registry.
Then, whenever you get one of these calls, consider it a potential goldmine.
I have personally reviewed this kit, called straight-forwardly enough “Turning Robocalls Into Cash”, and it is comprehensive, and legally sound. The person who put it together, “Doc” Compton, is a consumer credit counseling expert, and, as you know, these robocalling scammers can bilk unsuspecting people out of thousands of dollars by enticing them to give up their credit card numbers, and causing them to amass massive credit card debt. So it’s not hard to see how Doc and his staff came to assist their clients with this sort of thing.
The kit is about 30 pages long, and contains quite literally everything you need to turn the tables on these robocallers. It includes:
– Suggestions for how to cleverly elicit information from the robocallers
– How to finesse their trying to not share that information
– How to research and find the organizations behind the calls
– Templates for the demand letters that you will send
– Links to various resources that you probably didn’t know about
– Links to case law
– A “Robocall Call Log” template, so that when you are
harassing interacting with the robocaller you can jot down all of the information you get in one handy place (print out one for each call)
Excerpt from Demand Letter Template
Now, the kit, costs $47, and for what you get, I feel that it is well worth it. Given that your likelihood of success goes way up if you use Doc’s templates and resources, and given that even if you only did it once, you would get back at least 10 times that, it only makes sense to do it with this kit.
When you first get to Doc’s site (which you will notice is rather ‘homespun’, and not at all slick), before you buy the kit, be sure to first watch the video under the “As Seen on TV” link. This is a compilation of news stories, with the reporters actually trying it out, using the kit, so you can see for yourself how it works.
Here’s where to see and get the kit: Get the Turning Robocalls Into Cash Kit
NOTE: If you purchase the kit, I personally receive $7, however I turn it over to the Internet Patrol.
Have fun, and do let us know of your successes!
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