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CA spoofs caller id robocalling for someone else


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So I'm just annoyed enough to have already started some administrative complaints, but I'm wondering if I have TCPA and/or FDCPA claims I can bring in small claims.

 

Diversified Consultants, Inc., a FL CA also doing business as DCI Collect robocalled me with a spoofed Caller ID, looking for someone with the same first initial and very common last name as mine.  The call was to my home landline at 10:15 AM, they claim DoNotCall doesn't apply because they "reached a wrong number".  For one call I don't know how far the DoNotCall violation would go, I'm focused on the fraudulent Caller ID.  There was Federal law signed in 2010 outlawing this but I'm not sure that falls under TCPA, or there's a private right of action.

 

But is this (spoofedCaller ID) a fraudulent collection practice under FDCPA that could be pursued for statutory damages in small claims court?

 

 

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You asked this on the other board and the answers are no different.  

 

The call was to my home landline at 10:15 AM, they claim DoNotCall doesn't apply because they "reached a wrong number".  For one call I don't know how far the DoNotCall violation would go,

 

NO WHERE.  It will go no where.  It was ONE call.  I don't see ANY court or agency getting their knickers in a twist over one call and they are going to give the benefit of the doubt to the CA that is was a bonafide error.  

 

For Heaven's sake they are not even looking for YOU.  All you had to say was "you called the wrong J. Doe.  Please give me a contact address so I can send you written confirmation of an incorrect number with a cease and desist letter."  

 

 I'm focused on the fraudulent Caller ID.  There was Federal law signed in 2010 outlawing this but I'm not sure that falls under TCPA, or there's a private right of action.

 

But is this (spoofedCaller ID) a fraudulent collection practice under FDCPA that could be pursued for statutory damages in small claims court?

 

What statuatory damages?  You weren't damaged.  You have your panties in a wad because you got one phone call from a debt collector I can't imagine what contact with a real bottom feeder would do.  A stroke?  Put your big boy underwear on and GET OVER IT.  

 

One phone call isn't harassment and it isn't the end of the world.  If they keep calling after sending a cease and desist all contact in writing then you have a harassment issue and a case.  

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Over one call the maximum you could do is do a Do not call list complaint, and just leave it there. It would be insane to sue over one call (I sue over 2 calls but with added violations). Anyways they got a good defense, We dial a wrong number, x skip tracer did a bad job, hey we can't verify 1million number and know they are wrong, etc, etc. Just put your pants on and move on, if they call again then get their info and mail them a put me in your internal do not call list, and cease and desist letter, but in the meantime do a do not call complaint, and let it go.

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So I'm just annoyed enough to have already started some administrative complaints, but I'm wondering if I have TCPA and/or FDCPA claims I can bring in small claims.

 

Diversified Consultants, Inc., a FL CA also doing business as DCI Collect robocalled me with a spoofed Caller ID, looking for someone with the same first initial and very common last name as mine.  The call was to my home landline at 10:15 AM, they claim DoNotCall doesn't apply because they "reached a wrong number".  For one call I don't know how far the DoNotCall violation would go, I'm focused on the fraudulent Caller ID.  There was Federal law signed in 2010 outlawing this but I'm not sure that falls under TCPA, or there's a private right of action.

 

But is this (spoofedCaller ID) a fraudulent collection practice under FDCPA that could be pursued for statutory damages in small claims court?

 

@VADebtor

 

How was the caller ID spoofed?

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I keep getting calls on my home phone (4) where they left a recording that said (persons name) has defrauded a financial institution.  You need to call xxx-xxxx today. (something like that)  the person they named is my cousin. (Haven't seen him for 20 years)  I called them back and told them to quit calling, wrong person.  Now I have received 2 calls on my cell phone with the same message.  We have the same last name, so they are trying to skip trace him.  I am thinking about answering, and recording the calls now.  I erased the others, to bad lol. 

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I keep getting calls on my home phone (4) where they left a recording that said (persons name) has defrauded a financial institution.  You need to call xxx-xxxx today. (something like that)  the person they named is my cousin. (Haven't seen him for 20 years)  I called them back and told them to quit calling, wrong person.  Now I have received 2 calls on my cell phone with the same message.  We have the same last name, so they are trying to skip trace him.  I am thinking about answering, and recording the calls now.  I erased the others, to bad lol. 

 

The "defrauded a financial institution" is the latest scam going around.  If you do answer they are NOT going to give you any contact information for their alleged "business" as the goal is to get YOUR banking information.  Even if they did say we are XYZ business at 123 address, by the time you got a suit filed they will have folded up their tents and moved to another county and re-opened to keep perpetuating the scam.

 

The EASIEST way to get them to stop calling is to answer.  When they start their speech looking for your cousin you say "he is in jail give me your contact information and I will have his lawyer call you."  They will give up and take your number off the list.  

 

If they say it is your debt and they have a warrant for your arrest this is what I did when they tried it with me:  "No problem I will meet you at the jail."  They argued I could pay to avoid arrest.  I declined and said I was on my way.  They dropped the price.  I said I was pulling into the parking lot of the jail.  They dropped the price again.  I asked "do you want to meet in the parking lot or inside?"  I had never left my sofa!  They hung up at that point and I have never heard from them since.

 

If by some miracle they DO give you a business name and address you send them a cease and desist all contact letter and if they don't:  you sue.  In the mean time keep a log of the date/time of all calls, take a picture of the cell phone caller ID, same for home.  Transfer all messages left to a tape recorder to save for posterity and if they don't stop all you need is 2-3 audio files and a log showing many more phone calls to sue.  

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The caller ID was spoofed.  It displayed a Maryland (443 area code) number and a fictitious name (D. Pitts).  This violates the "truth in Caller ID" amendment to the Communications Act of 1934 signed in 2010, but providing no private right of action.

 

My claim is not for harassment, it would be for a deceptive practice under FDCPA, specifically concealing identity by spoofing caller ID.  I don't need actual damages, statutory damages apply.  The problem is they don't seem to be properly registered as a foreign corporation in Maryland so I cannot sue here and serve their registered agent.

 

I do now have their business address, FL collection license number, etc.  Since I am an innocent party and not the debtor I should not have to send a C&D, and they do claim to have "removed" my number from their system.

 

Frankly, if they had not tried to stonewall when I first spoke with them (the robocall had a "speak to someone" option) I would probably let it drop.  But the lies and evasions after a clear black letter violation of law are something none of us should tolerate.

 

Also, in researching the matter, they violated Florida collection law by refusing to provide identification information.  That complaint is already filed.

 

The point isn't whether I might collect $1,000.  It is that a robocall was made with the caller id spoofed, with the intent to deceive.

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The "defrauded a financial institution" is the latest scam going around.  If you do answer they are NOT going to give you any contact information for their alleged "business" as the goal is to get YOUR banking information.  Even if they did say we are XYZ business at 123 address, by the time you got a suit filed they will have folded up their tents and moved to another county and re-opened to keep perpetuating the scam.

 

The EASIEST way to get them to stop calling is to answer.  When they start their speech looking for your cousin you say "he is in jail give me your contact information and I will have his lawyer call you."  They will give up and take your number off the list.  

 

If they say it is your debt and they have a warrant for your arrest this is what I did when they tried it with me:  "No problem I will meet you at the jail."  They argued I could pay to avoid arrest.  I declined and said I was on my way.  They dropped the price.  I said I was pulling into the parking lot of the jail.  They dropped the price again.  I asked "do you want to meet in the parking lot or inside?"  I had never left my sofa!  They hung up at that point and I have never heard from them since.

 

If by some miracle they DO give you a business name and address you send them a cease and desist all contact letter and if they don't:  you sue.  In the mean time keep a log of the date/time of all calls, take a picture of the cell phone caller ID, same for home.  Transfer all messages left to a tape recorder to save for posterity and if they don't stop all you need is 2-3 audio files and a log showing many more phone calls to sue.  

 

The "Rebecca" scam is similar, that's the one where the robocall says Rebecca wants to help you lower your credit card bills.  The FTC did actually (surprise) take action and shut down some of the companies involved (it was a scam to collect payments for services never rendered or get bank information).  But It started up again and FTC says it's "too hard" to close it down (I spoke to the FTC person listed on their press release as due credit for their great success).  I got a new call along that line just after the call that was the subject of this thread.  When I asked who is the organization offering this service I was disconnected.  I'm sure that Caller ID was also spoofed ("Bank Card Services").

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The caller ID was spoofed.  It displayed a Maryland (443 area code) number and a fictitious name (D. Pitts).  This violates the "truth in Caller ID" amendment to the Communications Act of 1934 signed in 2010, but providing no private right of action.

 

The point isn't whether I might collect $1,000.  It is that a robocall was made with the caller id spoofed, with the intent to deceive.

 

What PROOF do you have that this is a spoofed number?  How do you know they do not have an employee with the name D. Pitts with a cell phone number from MD?  

 

I just did a search in a recognized on line phone book and came up with over 100 entries for "D Pitts" in the USA and Canada.  When you narrow it down to Maryland there were at least two dozen, I stopped counting. So your claim that the name is fictitious goes out the window when the CA shows that they made an honest error.

 

I live in the upper mid-west but my cell phone number is from the south east.  When I moved north I did not change it for convenience.  Does that mean if I call someone in MD I am spoofing the number because I live and work somewhere other than where my cell phone number area code is out of?

 

But they didn't intend to deceive YOU personally.  That is going to be your biggest problem.  The actual consumer they are looking for might have a claim.  I think yours goes out the window the nanosecond they say "we dialed the wrong number" to the court if it even gets that far.  

 

By all means file a court case.  (1) it won't stop them and (2) based on your information here I predict a summary dismissal and a VERY high chance that you get nailed for their attorney fees and court expenses if not fined.

 

Let us know how it works out.

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I did a little more research on the Maryland licensing question.  While not directly on point, the Federal District Court for Maryland held in Wayne A. BRADSHAW, et al., Plaintiffs, v.

HILCO RECEIVABLES, LLC, Defendant. (765 F.Supp.2d 719 (2011):

 

"this Court holds that a violation of Maryland's MCALA licensing requirement may support a cause of action under the FDCPA. However, this Court declines to hold that any violation of state law, no matter how trivial, constitutes a per se violation of the FDCPA."

 

In the case, an Illinois corporation asserted they did not have to be licensed in Maryland because they owned the debt (they are a JDB).  They didn't assert they didn't need to be licensed because they had no location in Maryland.  So if Diversified Consultants aka DCI Collect isn't licensed in Maryland there's a potential second FDCPA violation.

 

There's also a question I need to look at of whether spoofing caller id constitutes and unfair or deceptive trade practice under the MD Consumer Protection Act.  Bradshaw was granted summary judgement on a finding that by filing lawsuits to collect debt it owned as a JDB while not licensed as a collection agency in Maryland Hilco  engaged in unfair or deceptive trade practices.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Clydesmom,

 

My proof would be a picture showing the caller id displayed on my phone, and the fact that the robocall machine connects to their office, not to a person named (or with the "desk name") D. Pitts.  Remember, the first contact I made was by pressing "1" during the robocall, although the number shown on caller id does also connect to their call center, I can't say whether it is a cell phone being forwarded or another form of line that just rings to their call center.

 

They deceived me personally by falsely making the call appear to be from an individual not from a business.  While I might or might not have answered the call, I think we all know collection agencies spoof caller id so debtors will pick up.

 

So is "only a little" deception in violation of Federal law acceptable?

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I did a little more research on the Maryland licensing question.  While not directly on point, the Federal District Court for Maryland held in Wayne A. BRADSHAW, et al., Plaintiffs, v.

HILCO RECEIVABLES, LLC, Defendant. (765 F.Supp.2d 719 (2011):

 

"this Court holds that a violation of Maryland's MCALA licensing requirement may support a cause of action under the FDCPA. However, this Court declines to hold that any violation of state law, no matter how trivial, constitutes a per se violation of the FDCPA."

 

In the case, an Illinois corporation asserted they did not have to be licensed in Maryland because they owned the debt (they are a JDB).  They didn't assert they didn't need to be licensed because they had no location in Maryland.  So if Diversified Consultants aka DCI Collect isn't licensed in Maryland there's a potential second FDCPA violation.

 

The court did not render a clear decision and only said "MAY SUPPORT" a cause.  Suits over violations of federal law are very specific.  Judges want definitive case law not maybes.

 

 

There's also a question I need to look at of whether spoofing caller id constitutes and unfair or deceptive trade practice under the MD Consumer Protection Act.  Bradshaw was granted summary judgement on a finding that by filing lawsuits to collect debt it owned as a JDB while not licensed as a collection agency in Maryland Hilco  engaged in unfair or deceptive trade practices.

 

The problem is they are not SUING YOU.  It isn't deceptive trade since they were not attempting to engage YOU personally they were looking for an entirely different person.

 

Ponder this:  if you can't convince lay people with an above average command of debt suits how are you going to convince a judge?

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Clydesmom,

 

My proof would be a picture showing the caller id displayed on my phone, and the fact that the robocall machine connects to their office, not to a person named (or with the "desk name") D. Pitts.  Remember, the first contact I made was by pressing "1" during the robocall, although the number shown on caller id does also connect to their call center, I can't say whether it is a cell phone being forwarded or another form of line that just rings to their call center.

 

And they will claim that they have a call center and calls are routed to the next available agent not the one who actually made the call to the consumer.  

 

All your picture shows is that a call came to your phone from that number.  It does not show that it was spoofed. 

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The picture proves the number and name displayed.  All of the hypothetical defenses you suggest are up to the defendant to prove. 

 

If they aren't licensed in Maryland and own a Maryland phone number that digs a bigger hole for them on licensing.

 

The Bradshaw case was decided by a Federal Judge in favor of Bradshaw on the issue of the JDB being unlicensed as a deceptive practice.  That judgement followed the reasoning I posted which clearly states that a collection agency undertaking collection activity (skip tracing a debtor in the case of the spoofed robocall) in Maryland without a Maryland license can be (but is not per se) an FDCPA violation.

 

Frankly Clydesmom, you seem pretty quick to find everything I say speculative and unsupportable.  I respectfully disagree on the issue of the fact they called me using an automated device and a spoofed caller id.

 

Maryland doesn't have online search for licensing so I have to wait until tomorrow to see if they are licensed.

 

If this were a JDB robocalling me with a spoofed callerid about a debt they claimed I own, would your view be any different?  Would they just be entitled to violate federal law?

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Ponder this:  if you can't convince lay people with an above average command of debt suits how are you going to convince a judge?

 

Lay people claiming to have "an above average command of debt suits" are often basing their perception an "above average command of debt suits" on their own subjective evaluation of their own knowledge. Quite often, this "above average command of debt suits" is coupled with a sorely below average command of the law in general, thus effectively negating their self-perceived "above average command of debt suits." 

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Maryland doesn't have online search for licensing so I have to wait until tomorrow to see if they are licensed.

 

@VADebtor, Maryland debt collection license search HERE.

 

For the record, a violation of the state licensing law has been held to support violation of federal debt collection act in multiple federal jurisdictions, including the 4th, 11th and (if I recall correctly) the 9th circuit. 

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This guy posted this same thread on another board and the reason he came here is because the resident lay legal expert there told him the same thing.

He is going to sue no matter what. No point in arguing it here. All he needs to do is report the results. However absent independent confirmation I won't buy any claim of major victory.

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So it seems TCPA and FDCPA claims against Diversified Consultants can get to court.  I may even fire up Pacer to look at this one, the Google Scholar entry relates to a hearing on class action status:

 

JOHNNY O'CONNOR, Plaintiff,
v.
DIVERSIFIED CONSULTANTS, INC., Defendant. Case No. 4:11CV1722 RWS.

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division.

September 21, 2012.

 

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

 

RODNEY W. SIPPEL, District Judge.

Plaintiff Johnny O'Connor is suing Defendant Diversified Consultants, Inc. on his own behalf and on behalf of other similarly situated individuals. The basis of this action is Diversified's alleged violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA), 47 U.S.C. § 227, et seq. and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. § 1692, et seq. Several motions have been filed by the parties.

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nascar,

 

Thanks for the link, I couldn't find it.  Diversified is in fact licensed as a collection agency in Maryland for both their FL and OR locations.

 

Yes, and they have a history of failing to meaningfully identify themselves when placing debt collection calls. 

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Nascar,

 

I guess my Pacer account is suspended because the credit card expired.  I did find a different item for the O'Connor case on Justia and it appears to be a class action regarding Diversified robocalling cell phone, which is not my circumstance.  I'm curious enough to reopen my Pacer account and look at the complaint.

 

Failure to identify is a prohibited practice under FL collection agency law...

 

Clydesmom,

 

I'm not "definitely going to sue" although I may.  Bringing deceptive practices complaints in Florida and Maryland, as well as pursuing the FL prohibited practice of failing to identify may produce some accountability.  I'm not convinced the FCC complaint I filed yesterday will result in anything, although the fact of a TCPA class action against them may indicate they are subject of multiple complaints to FCC as well, which might cause FCC to actually take action.

 

There is a FL attorney Don Petersen (http://www.fdcpa.me/just-spoofing/), who believes caller id spoofing is a deceptive practice violation under FDCPA.  He says (on his site) he only represents FL residents but I hope to get him to tell me whether there may be a case.

 

You're concerned about sanctions, costs and "fines" for bringing a case.  I wonder what authority you have for that concern.  Ignoring for the moment the lack of sanctions, costs and "fines" assessed against JDB junk lawsuits, are you warning me about the SCOTUS decision Marx v. GENERAL REVENUE CORP., 133 S. Ct. 470 (U.S. 2012)?  In that case the issue doesn't seem to be a finding that the plaintiff brought her case from "bad faith or harassment", the award of costs was allowed (in Federal court under Federal rules) because she did not respond to defendant's offer of judgement and subsequently lost her case.  I believe the principle established is that a litigant who proceeds after refusing an offer of judgement and loses, or wins an amount less than the offer of judgement, may be liable for costs and attorneys' fees.

 

I would most definitely not attempt an initial filing in Federal court pro se, and I don't believe I have to.  15 U.S.C. 1692k (d):  "An action to enforce any liability created by this subchapter may be brought in any appropriate United States district court without regard to the amount in controversy, or in any other court of competent jurisdiction, within one year from the date on which the violation occurs."  I could bring a suit for statutory damages in Maryland Small Claims court.  Now I do understand some state courts don't want to take these, and it's a common practice for the defendant to seek to remove such cases to Federal court.

 

The whole point of statutory damages is that no damages have to be shown.  Statutory damages under FDCPA don't require proof of actual damages.  They can be "up to" $1,000 as determined by the court.

 

§ 1692k. Civil liability

(a) Amount of damages

Except as otherwise provided by this section, any debt collector who fails to comply with any provision of this subchapter with respect to any person is liable to such person in an amount equal to the sum of--

(1) any actual damage sustained by such person as a result of such failure;

(2)(A) in the case of any action by an individual, such additional damages as the court may allow, but not exceeding $1,000; or

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You're concerned about sanctions, costs and "fines" for bringing a case.  I wonder what authority you have for that concern.  Ignoring for the moment the lack of sanctions, costs and "fines" assessed against JDB junk lawsuits, are you warning me about the SCOTUS decision Marx v. GENERAL REVENUE CORP., 133 S. Ct. 470 (U.S. 2012)?  In that case the issue doesn't seem to be a finding that the plaintiff brought her case from "bad faith or harassment", the award of costs was allowed (in Federal court under Federal rules) because she did not respond to defendant's offer of judgement and subsequently lost her case.  I believe the principle established is that a litigant who proceeds after refusing an offer of judgement and loses, or wins an amount less than the offer of judgement, may be liable for costs and attorneys' fees.

 

@VADebtor

 

The Supreme Court ruling Marx case was not based upon an offer of judgment.  The federal rule for an offer of judgment is 68(d).   That only applies to a plaintiff who is awarded a judgment.  Marx was never awarded a judgment.  She lost her case outright, so 68(d) didn't apply to her.

 

The Supreme Court heard the case to determine if prevailing defendants in an FDCPA case that has NOT been brought in bad faith can be awarded costs pursuant to Rule 54(d).   The 10th Circuit stated that the costs could be awarded and the Supreme Court agreed.

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