Cashing in on those annoying, pervasive robocalls

Investigations

It’s an epidemic that likely impacts you. 8 On Your Side is investigating how a robocall can make you rich.

“I’m fighting with robocallers everyday,” said Frank Kerney, an attorney with Morgan & Morgan. “I’m still getting five and six of them a day.”

Robocalls are on the rise.  

Americans received approximately 48 billion robocalls in 2018, according to YouMail, a company that blocks and tracks robocalls. 

Florida ranks number three in total volume of calls.

Data from YouMail shows that on average people living in Tampa received approximately 21 robocalls just last month.

Kerney and his team in Tampa receive about 300 robocall complaints each week.

“It’s really a form of harassment, it drives people crazy,” he said.

So, is it legal? 

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act or TCPA governs the use of robocalls.

Telemarketers, mortgage servicers and debt collectors can use this technology if they have the prior express consent of the called party.

Kerney said companies get consent via specific clauses in an agreement.

“The catch there being that you’re free to revoke that consent,” said Kerney.

“So obviously the best thing to do is put it in writing… but they still must honor your verbal request.”

If a company does not honor your request, they could face heavy fines in a lawsuit.

“The TCPA calls for damages of up to $1500 for every phone call.”

Obviously, these rules do not apply to scam robocalls.

“There’s no one legitimate there to go after,” said Kerney.

It’s best to not pick up these calls.

Kerney said the government has technology to block these calls. For now, the technology has not been implemented.

8 On Your Side asked YouMail why Florida is a top target.

A spokesperson said it’s likely because there’s more elderly people susceptible to scams in our state.  

Additionally, Florida residents tend to answer the phone.  

The more you answer, the more they’ll call.

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