By Liz Collin

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Robocalls driving you crazy? Many of us won’t even answer our phones if we don’t know the number, but there’s a way to cash in on computer-generated scammers.

A local attorney has helped thousands of people make money from machine-made calls. For more than 20 years, Pete Barry has worked to protect consumers in court.

“Under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, you’ve got a right to stop automated calls to your cellphone,” Barry said.

Lately, it’s robocallers he’s challenged in cases across the country.

“Robocalls are a huge problem here in the United States because the technology exists to make literally billions of phone calls in an afternoon to millions of consumers,” Barry said.

But under the law, telemarketers can’t call your cellphone unless you’ve given your number to a debt collector or creditor before.

If robocallers violate that?

“If the calls were negligent, it’s $500 per call. If the calls are willful it’s $1,500 per call,” Barry said.

That’s right, $1,500 per call. If you’re ready to take the legal route, Barry recommends you answer your next robocall.

“If there’s someone on the phone, tell the person to remove your phone number and to stop calling your cellphone,” Barry said.

If there isn’t a real person documenting the call, screenshot the number, date and time and block the number. If they call again, contact a lawyer.

“I have cases in New York right now, Florida, California,” Barry said.

Barry believes the FCC holds the real power to combat robocalls as we wait for a government ruling on redefining automated dialers.

“Because that ruling hasn’t been issued about what an automated dialer is, consumers are stuck with the robocalls,” he said.

Barry says while the Do Not Call list has worked to reduce the number of marketing calls, robocallers get around that by redefining what an automated call is.  He also believes sending your robocall complaints to your representative is a good idea to create lasting change.

Liz Collin

  1. Tena Kay Michel says:

    These instructions are useless. You can’t keep a record anymore because the scammers make sure different numbers show up on the Caller ID each time they call—and those numbers aren’t even theirs. We’ve gotten numbers from Coke, Google, local authorities….and those numbers are used deliberately to fake you out so you pick up the phone. Sorry, but this article is at least five years too late.