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Illinois Plaintiff Launches TCPA Robocall Lawsuit against Fifth Third Bank

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Chicago, ILThe Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) were enacted to protect consumers from needless harassment over the phone. Common purveyors of such harassment have historically been telemarketers, or debt collectors that often wind up harassing the wrong people over a debt no longer owed, due to incorrect information and the all-too-common practice of flipping debtor accounts between different collection agencies, with vital information lost in the process. However, an increasing number of TCPA complaints are being directed to the highly-competitive banking industry. To that end a TCPA lawsuit has been filed against Fifth Third Bank alleging Fifth Third Bank TCPA violations.

According to the Cook County Record (04/25/17), a disgruntled consumer has taken issue with alleged robocalls made to his cell phone through an automated dialer from Fifth Third Bank. Plaintiff Christopher Valdes alleges in his Fifth Third Bank robocalling violation lawsuit that Fifth Third placed several calls to his cell phone in a single day, with regard to a debt the plaintiff claims he doesn’t owe.

This can be problematic for a number of reasons. Unlike a land line, which doesn’t put usage on a clock with the possible exception of long distance calls, cell phone minutes are a chargeable entity. Unless the cellphone consumer has, by choice purchased a plan that carries unlimited minutes calls made from, and to a cellphone eat up chargeable time. Consumers have little control over unwanted calls made to a cellphone from a third party, unless the originating numbers are blocked.

Both the TCPA and the FDCPA carry regulations and guidance that protect the consumer from undue harassment. Telemarketing requires, in most cases express and prior consent. Nuisance calls made to collect an alleged debt can be stopped at the request of the consumer.

In a vast number of cases, however, such harassing calls and robocalling do not stop – triggering violations to the TCPA and FDCPA.

Valdes asserts in his Fifth Third TCPA violation lawsuit that he was harassed through the use of an automatic dialer to collect a debt he does not owe, or so it is alleged. The plaintiff requests a trial by jury and seeks actual and punitive damages, court costs, injunction against the defendant and any further relief the court grants.

Such TCPA violations were more commonly the bastion of collection agencies that swap, buy and sell, and otherwise trade accounts amongst one another for the opportunity to collect old, outstanding debts. Calls placed to an assumed debtor’s cell phone, home, other family members, friends, employers or places of business represent common tactics of debt collection agencies based upon phone numbers or information that may be outdated or incomplete. Such practices are among those the TCPA and FDCPA were designed to curb, and offer a level of legal recourse on behalf of the consumer.

But now the banks appear to be getting into the act.

It is useful for consumers and potential litigants to know that the TCPA and FDCPA exist to provide legal recourse against unwanted, and in most cases unlawful robocalling and other examples of needless harassment using the telephone, and cellphones as a conduit.

However, it’s not enough to simply call up a Third Fifth TCPA violation lawyer and complain about being harassed. Legal experts confirm that the more documentation retained by the consumer with regard to their dispute with an alleged robocaller, the better. Tracking and noting calls, including a record of all calls and messages with dates and times, is prudent – as are retaining bills that may reflect additional costs to the consumer generated by unlawful telemarketing.

Requests for robocalls or automatically-dialed calls to stop should be made in writing to the bank or collection agency – and all communication, both written and otherwise should be documented.

Such record keeping will contribute greatly to a successful outcome in a TCPA violation lawsuit.

The Fifth Third Bank TCPA robocalling lawsuit is Christopher Valdes v. Fifth Third Bank, Case No. 1:17-cv-02320, filed March 27 in the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

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