One of the difficulties with automated calls is that they may not be for the person who currently owns the number. Getting connected to someone who can do something about it can be time consuming. The complaint for this class action alleges that Discover Financial Services, Inc. placed debt collection calls to consumer cell phones that were not owned by the parties it was trying to reach.
The class for this action is all persons in the US (a) to whose cell phones (b) Discover Financial Services or someone acting on its behalf placed a call (c) using an automatic telephone dialing system or an artificial or prerecorded voice (d) between September 20, 2015 and the date of the certification of the class in this case (e) where the persons who received the calls were not the intended recipients of the calls.
Congress intended that the TCPA give consumers some control over which companies could contact them with advertising or other messages. Cell phones were a particular concern, because cell phone owners normally pay for incoming as well as outgoing calls.
The law forbids companies from placing calls to consumer cell phones using automatic dialing systems or artificial or prerecorded voices unless they have the consumers’ prior express written consent to receive such calls. The word “calls” includes regular voice calls, voicemails, and text messages, since they all cost the consumer and all represent a similar nuisance.
Plaintiff Viann Bonoan got a new cell phone number in June 2017. Since then, she has received “dozens” of wrong number calls, including debt collection calls. Some of them were from Discover.
For example, on July 3, 2019, she received a call from a number associated with Discover. If the number is dialed, a recording is reached that begins, “Thank you for calling Discover…”
However, Bonoan is not a customer of Discover and does not have a business relationship with the company. She says she did not give the company her number and did not give it her prior express written consent to contact her that way.
It seems that the calls were actually directed to a Harold Cortez. Bonoan says she does not know this person. She believes the calls were made with an automatic dialing system.
According to the complaint, Discover has been sued twice before for calling consumer cell phone numbers without permission. The complaint cites two earlier class actions that resulted in a 2013 settlement of $8.7 million.