How To Sue Telemarketers For A Big Payday

callerIf you ever need a cash boost to the tune of a few grand and feel particularly vengeful, suing those annoying telemarketers could be your ticket to a big payday.

Even after years of court cases and legislation, those guys are still out there calling us in the middle of dinner about some Extended Warranty Program or other such scammy nonsense. So why not turn life’s lemons into lemonade?

After all, what they’re doing really is illegal as long as:

a) they’re automated, recorded messages to your home or cell phone
b) they don’t state their name at the beginning of the message
c) they don’t leave their phone number or address
d) they called a number on the National Do Not Call List, and…
e) they didn’t provide a written copy of their Do Not Call List maintenance policy

Most people just yell at them or make useless complaints to the FCC. But you’re better than that. You’re a reader (and hopefully subscriber) of The Legal Secrets Report.

I’ll show you how to bite back with some real teeth, do society a favor, and get paid for your troubles.

Step #1. Keep Records Of What They Do

Every time they call you, write down:

a) The time
b) Whatever number shows up on caller ID (I can almost guarantee you this won’t be their real number)
c) As much of their message that you heard
d) Whether they mentioned their company’s name at the beginning
e) Whether the call was automated
f) Whether they stated their phone number or mailing address (yeah, right)

And if it’s legal in your state, then record the call. If it’s not legal, you’ll have to rely on the accuracy of your transcript.

Make certain your number is on the National Do Not Call List by going to their site and printing out the confirmation they send after you confirm.

Step #2. Get The Real Scoop On Who’s Behind The Voice

Type the caller ID number into Google and see what pops up. If you’re lucky (or they’re incredibly stupid…or both) you’ll be able to get some info on who’s been calling. More often though, it’ll be a spoofed caller ID number because these guys know what they’re doing is illegal and do their damnedest to hide from the consequences.

This is not information you can find out just by demanding it from the caller. The second they sense you’re wise to their scheme, they’ll hang up pronto. It’s illegal, but they don’t seem to care.

Instead, act all nicey-nice when you’re on the phone with them. Play the part of the sap getting reeled in for the unsuspected kill. Act interested in what they’re pushing. If they ask you for personal info, just make some crap up (but perhaps write it down in case they ask you to repeat it later.)

Your goal here is to get them to reveal a website, address, company name, direct phone number – ANYTHING and everything that will give you the edge later. They might play along and give you some bogus 800 number at first. But keep pressing. Ask for a direct line so you can “call them back after you’ve thought about it because you’re interested, but just need to (insert whatever reason here)”… and you would “really like to buy once you double-check.”

They will go hell and high water to avoid this. They will lie and try to transfer you several times while they feed you all kinds of bullshit. But you must never waver, and always play the part of doe-eyed, eager prospect – ready and willing to give them your money if only they’d grant you this one small favor.

If you do it right, this will get you a name, website, address, and real phone number.

This is not enough to sue. Yet.

Now you need to take that info and do a little detective work. Because what you really need are:

a) Their formal business name
b) Their legal street address, and…
c) Their direct main phone number

Take any websites they mentioned and plug them into OnSameHost or DomainTools. What this will give you is a list of websites hosted on the same server as theirs. We’re hoping to find other sites they may own.

Now take that list of websites into a Whois search and make a note of any names of real people you uncover. Often, this method will get you the name, phone and address of someone within the company, sometimes even their head guy. Also if you do a search for the IP addresses alone, even more revealing results can come up.

Next, take these corporate names you’ve found and search for them on Google, Switchboard, and the appropriate Secretary of State website. If you can find out what county they’re in, do a Fictitious Business Name (FBN) search on the county government website.

Do Google searches on all names, addresses, and phones you discover. If you can find other businesses in the same building, call them up and nicely ask for the landlord’s name and phone number. Then call the landlord and inquire as to whom rents suite whatever.

Call a few numbers above and below the direct line they gave you. Since this is a telemarketing outfit, they probably own God-knows-how-many lines and they’re probably all routed through the same box. Listen to how different people answer different lines. This can give you even more insight into what the real company name is.

Call up a few phone company’s in the area and get transferred over to their legal compliance department. Then ask if they are the provider for the telemarketing numbers. This info will come in handy later for the subpoena.

Step #3. Sort It All Out

Since we’re dealing with telemarketers here, you’re usually looking at a layer of companies. There’s often the Fictitious Business Name (FBN), the companies that reside in specific states, and the parent holding company. That’s why it’s possible to get multiple calls that all sound different, but in reality come from the same source.

In legal speak, the telemarketers are an “agent” of the holding company, who is a “principal.” That means they’re both responsible and technically you can sue and collect from both.

Step #4. Cash In

So here’s what we have so far:

a) A detailed record of every call you got and what parts of that call were illegal
b) The complete legal name of the company including address, phone, and the name of someone to serve
c) The iron balls to see this through to the end

Now head on over to your state’s civil court website and download the form to file suit. It also helps to subpoena 3rd party documents from the phone companies so you have even more hard proof. For example, my Vonage phone logs all incoming and outgoing calls, so the records are easy to obtain.

But before you actually file a lawsuit, offer to settle. Call up the CEO and tell him you’re about to sue for violations of the applicable telemarketing laws and wanted to know if they’re interested in settling to avoid the hassle and cost of court. If they don’t answer or return your call within 3 business days, contact them again… this time with an ultimatum that any non-response will be seen as a refusal to settle and will give you the green light to bring suit.

Most idiotic companies don’t take you seriously until they actually get served with a court order. Be sure to get a signed “proof of service” back from the process server and file it with the court or you run the risk of the judge throwing out your case.

It’s amazing what a court order will do to grease the wheels of settlement negotiation. Since it was they who broke the law, the balance of power is on your side. Milk them for a few G’s and get on with your life.

To help out with the finer details of Small Claims Court, Nolo Press offers a great guide. And for more legal strategies on getting back at bad businesses, check out How To Outswim The Sharks.

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2 Responses to “How To Sue Telemarketers For A Big Payday”

  • shannon Says:

    Today was my first day at a job i really need, that pays a lot, but is doing illegal things. Morally, I hate it. They prey on senior citizens. What can I do?

  • Greg Says:

    When I was briefly in insurance door-to-door, I worked in a sales room where the supervisor trained us on how to call up senior citizens and basically lie to them to get an appointment to come over to their house. With a close ratio of 5%, I was one of their best guys. But I quit after a month. The job disgusted me. With a few exceptions I was selling something most of them didn’t want, asking for money they didn’t have, and lying to them to begin the relationship. There’s better ways of making money in this world, and easier ones too. I know it’s hard to give up an income source, but think of it this way: as long as people have problems in the world, there will always be a way for you to provide solutions to those problems and people will gladly pay you for those solutions. They’ll be happy and you’ll be happy. Look at what people are buying and happily paying money for, figure out how you can fit into it, and you’ll never need to worry about where the next money is coming from.

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