Wells Fargo Faces Lawsuit over Robocalls
Wells Fargo may be facing a new lawsuit over their automatic calling services, according to a Reuters report. Filed Thursday in the San Francisco federal court, the class action case accuses the bank of making thousands of unauthorized “robocalls” to customers’ cell phones.
The U.S. Telephone Consumer Protection Act prevents businesses from auto-dialing phone calls to cell phones. A recent lawsuit overseen by the 9th Circuit expanded the definition of autodialers and robocalls to include equipment that automatically makes calls to numbers on a stored list. Previously, calls were only considered robocalls if the phone numbers were randomly generated.
The lawsuit against Wells Fargo alleges the bank uses equipment that falls under the new definition of autodialers. The case also alleges that Wells Fargo leaves automated voice messages on customers’ cell phones, which also goes against the TCPA.
The American Bankers Association argues the purpose of the TCPA was to prevent companies from making mass phone calls to random people. It was not intended to prevent a bank, or any other institution, from reaching its own customers. So Wells Fargo contacting clients within its existing customer base is not the same as a credit card company cold-calling potential customers to sign up for an offer.
The Federal Trade Commission is in charge of monitoring and maintaining the Do Not Call Registry, which protects consumers from robocalls. The company has recently been cracking down on companies that violate federal calling guidelines. 2017 was the worst year on record for robocalls, reaching a total of 30.5 billion calls (100+ calls per U.S. adult). In December alone, Americans received an average of 967 calls per second.
The pending lawsuit against Wells Fargo is Barnes vs. Wells Fargo Bank, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No 18-6520. Lisa Barnes is a Michigan resident who alleges that Wells Fargo contacted her without her consent and continued to contact her after she requested them to stop. The case seeks triple the damages allotted by the TCPA, totaling $1,500 per call.