Winter Haven man files suit over endless "robocalls"

11:43 PM, Aug 8, 2013   |    comments
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WINTER HAVEN, Florida- Michael Murray is an under-employed construction worker who relies on his cell phone, and its limited 200 minutes a month, to find work.

In January, Murray says his phone started ringing but it wasn't potential employers. Instead, it was an automated message.

"You get a machine talking to you," said a frustrated Murray. "It's a computer voice!"

The phone calls started but wouldn't stop. Worse yet, when he'd call the number back, it was another recording, this time asking for his social security number.

"After a while it dawns on you that this is happening way too much," said Murray. "They're calling me every day now, six or seven days a week."

Murray says he finally figured out it was national student loan provider Sallie Mae who was responsible for the calls. He told 10 News he managed to get through on an alternate line and told managers he didn't have a student loan.

"He called up the person, said 'you have the wrong number, you have the wrong person, I don't owe you any money', and they said 'okay', then they called back the very next day," said Murray's attorney Billy Howard with Tampa law firm Morgan & Morgan.

Howard said after hundreds of calls from January through April, it finally took a lawsuit filed in federal court to get the robo calls stopped.

"A lot of people think they just got one or two phone calls and they're just going to stop," said Howard. "They don't know until months and months later that- wait a minute, these guys are not going to stop."

We tried to reach Sallie Mae for an explanation but had trouble getting through ourselves.  It turns out a federal law under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act could mean Murray is entitled to up to $1,500... per unwanted robocall! 

That could total a fine in the six figures for those responsible for the calls.

"They put systems in place to set the train down the tracks, but they didn't put brakes on it," said Murray.

"The robo dialer will call 2 million phone numbers a day. They don't know if its not the right nuber, and they don't care. They don't check because they don't care," said Howard. "They're making a lot of money so they're going to keep calling."

We did finally receive an e-mail back from Sallie Mae saying they'd need the customer's permission before answering any questions.

10 News obtained the lawsuit filed in U.S. District court on behalf of Michael Murray. His attorney believes a judge could award Murray up to $300,000 for the approximate 200 unwanted phone calls made to his cell phone.

So what if this is happening to you?

  • If you're just getting a few calls from these automated recordings, hang up and hope they don't call back.
  • Register with the FTC's "Do Not Call" Registry too
  • Be sure to read all fine print! Sometimes when you sign up for a loan or bank account, you're giving the company permission to call you.
If all else fails, work to find out who is calling; write down their address and phone number; contact them and ask to speak to a manager, and then tell them to stop calling.

If they continue, keep a log of all the calls and consider contacting an attorney.

Follow 10 News Reporter Beau Zimmer on twitter @Zimm10

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