Interviewer: How do you obtain data to show what happened? Are all calls to people’s cell phones recorded, or do you get the recordings that the debt company made? How do you trace evidence?
Andrew: That is an excellent question. There are several ways. When you receive a call, the first step is to determine who is calling you. If it is a responsible collector or a creditor, they tend keep very good records. What you want to do though is to keep track your own records. I have a call log that I give my clients.
It lists who called, the date and time of each call, and has space to record what was actually said on the call. You also want to take a photo of your call history or your caller ID. If calls are continuous, you will want to take photo’s on a set basis, perhaps once a week. You want to be sure to preserve that information.
Let me give you an example of how important this is. I had a client who received what we thought were 25 calls but she did not know for sure. We got her cell phone records and the cell phone records do not record a call unless you actually answer it or unless you hit “ignore” when the call comes in.
She had some of the calls that she had answered but we really did not know for sure because she had not taken a photo of her call history every week. So when I sent out the demand letter, I did not tell the collector the number of calls. I intentionally avoided that issue.
I said, “Hey, we got these calls. They are illegal. If you differ, show me the application for credit where the cell phone was listed and we will go away. Otherwise, you owe us money and you need to tell us how many calls were made.” I am glad I took that approach because if I hadn’t we might not have been able to get as much as we did.
In the end, we thought there were only twenty-six calls and there ended up being fifty-two. We ended up with twice as much money. Keep in mind that if you do end up filing a lawsuit, the other side does have to produce this information anyway during what is called “discovery”. You can’t always know that number for sure at the outset, though. Debt collectors tend to keep and have pretty good records.
Telemarketers have an obligation to keep certain records, and their outgoing call logs will often establish the number of calls as well. However, voiceover internet protocol is tending to cause a lot of problems because that data is not always easy to capture. Sometimes if you are dealing with that issue, you have to hire an expert to figure it out for you. That can be very costly.