Transcript for When Robocalls to Your Cell Phone Can Mean Money
Tonight, robocalling revenge. If you've ever found yourself annoyed by the automated corporate phone calls, you'll find the next story deeply satisfying. It's about people that not only got the robocallers to stop. But also got them to shell out serious money. And you might be able to do this, too. Here's ABC's Matt Gutman. Reporter: The calls come in by the millions every day. I generally get anywhere from five to six per day. Reporter: To people like Sherri, from Michigan. It's extremely annoying. And I don't know how to get them to stop calling me. Reporter: And Jean from New Mexico. She seems to find us from every state in the union. Reporter: And to the waits of Bellville, Florida. You called this number about 200 times. Reporter: How does it make you feel? Very aggravated. Reporter: They're robocalls, prerecorded messages that come to your phone via computer software. Frustrating. And under federal law when they hit your cell phone, also illegal. 17-year-old heather Waites was bombarded with 17 of these calls. A debt collection company called her cell phone two and three times every day. 204 calls in total over a few months. They would call her during school hours. That's why she would leave the phone off. Reporter: The thing is, heather, a high school student, has no debt. Zero. Plus, the computer-generated voice wasn't even looking for her. The robocalls mechanically asked for Marcy Rodriguez. Who is Marcy Rodriguez? I don't know who she is. Reporter: The only way you could have possibly ended the phone calls earlier is by saying that you're someone that you're not. Go to press one 100 phone calls before. But they still kept calling after we told them we're not Marcy Rodriguez. Let's fight back. Reporter: That's when they say they lawyered up. We're bombarded with unwanted calls and text messages. Reporter: Not only are unwanted robocalls to cell phones illegal under federal law, but companies that place these calls can be held liable. It's a $500 minimum violation for every, single unwanted phone call to your cell phone. And could be worth up to $1,500 per call. Reporter: Each unwanted call could worth up to $1,500. According to a 1991 that restricts telephone solicitation. And it's not just an isolated case. There are hundreds of thousands of people that are going through this exact same thing. And they just don't know their rights. Reporter: But diversified consultants inc., says it's just an honest error. This happens a lot. What do you say to them? Although there is human error, we do our best every, single day, to make sure things like that do not happen. Reporter: He says that human error, due to sheer volume. We make anywhere from 1 to 1.3 million calls a day. Reporter: 68% of cell phone owners receive at least some unwanted calls. A quarter of them says it happens several times a week. And the biggest complaint, 34% say they get calls for collection of debts they don't owe. Wrong calls often stem from cell phone Numbers being recycled. But they're a tiny fraction of the total calls. What if you were called three times a day. If I was phoned three times a day, I would say please stop calling me. Reporter: Harassment is another problem with debt collection. Repeated robocalls to cell phones are illegal. But there can be a big price to pay when debt collectors go too far. Take Diana may, who was awarded $10 million after receiving calls like these. I'm trying to reach Diana. This is Diana. The . Who? The . It was a word so vulgar, I was just stunned. Reporter:ma57z Allen Jones, a bank of America customer, received racist messages like these when he failed to pay an $81 debt. Get your mother Ass up and go pick up some . To hear somebody talk about my kids or the things they were going to do to me. Tear me a new a-hole. All the things over $81. Reporter: A jury awarded Allen $1.5 million for the abuse. Diversified consultant coo, beck, says his company never practices those aggressi iive methods. Suing robocalling companies has become big business. 98 so far this year have sued your company. A lot of people are learning that it's a cash cow for lawsuits. Reporter: For heather and Patricia waitwaites could bring something else. We're both excited. Reporter: Now, it could be their turn to try to collect from the debt collectors. For "Nightline," I'm Matt Gutman, in Bellevue, Florida.
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