All is well until your cell phone goes off. You look down and realize that its a call from a local number. You don't recognize the number, so you are worried it may be the new babysitter calling from her cell to tell you that your six year old just got into the medicine cabinet. Your wife is as anxious as you to answer the phone. You fumble in your jacket pocket in the dark restaurant to find and answer the phone and are greeted with dead air. After a few rounds of "Hello?" to a vacuum of silence, you have almost decided to hang up, when, lo and behold, you hear a voice. Not of a nervous sixteen year old babysitter but the gravelly broken English spoken in a boiler room somewhere in India--maybe Mumbai--where call centers can exploit people for a pittance. He says that his name is John and that he is with ABC Collection Agency and asks if you are Mary Jones. It is both laughable and frustrating at the same time. You tell him that he has the wrong number and to take you off his call list. He pushes a little and asks if you know Mary Jones or where "he" can be found. You say that you have no idea, that you are at dinner, and that this is your new number. You tell him, as politely as you can, not to call you call back.
You and your wife try and pick back up where you left off. After a half hour or so the phone call has become a distant memory and your family dream vacation of pastel hammocks on a pristine white sand beach is coming into focus, and the meal that the server has just brought out is delicious. Things could not be better. You are really relaxing.
Another call. A different number. Maybe this really is the babysitter. Answering confirms the sneaky suspicion you had. No babysitter, just another debt collector looking for Mary Jones. By the end of the evening, you have fielded a half dozen calls and all discussion has shifted from the intended conversation to how unlucky you were to pull this new phone number. You put yourself on the national do not call registry the next day (https://www.donotcall.gov), but the calls continue. You know it may take a month or so for them to stop, so you develop coping mechanisms. After a month, they don't stop. After six months, you feel vested in the new phone number but finally decide to throw in the towel and change phone numbers as it is just not worth the grief. You have to give your new cell number to all your family, coworkers, and friends again. Its a colossal waste of time, and you are mad.
The silver lining to this scenario is that both Federal and State law provide remedies to victims of these unwanted calls from debt collectors, creditors, and telemarketers. Calling a cell phone by using automated dialers or pre-recorded calls without express permission from the person being called can result in a $500 penalty being assessed against the caller per call. If you have told callers to stop and they persist, the law gives courts the authority to penalize the caller with treble damages of $1500 per call.
Our firm has seen similar scenarios play out time after time. We have helped hundreds of people deal with these frustrations and find the silver lining. If you, a family member, a co-worker, or a friend has been the victim of unwanted calls from debt collectors, creditors, or telemarketers, call our office for a free consultation.