Albert Nigro just wanted to turn off his deceased mother-in-law’s electricity. He called the electric company, but it required that he provide his mobile telephone number to disconnect service. It turned out though that the mother-in-law had an outstanding bill of $68. Nigro did not know about that when he gave his number. He was not legally required to pay it.
The electric company hired a debt collector to recover the $68 owing on the mother-in-law’s account. The debt collector placed 72 autodial calls over the course of nine months to Nigro. In each call, the message asked for the mother-in-law. Eventually, Nigro had enough. He sued under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. He argued that while he had voluntarily given his number in connection with disconnecting his mother-in-law’s service, he had not given consent for calls about an outstanding debt. The debt collector argued, based on prior Federal Communications Commission rulings, that providing a phone number to a business permitted the business to call it. Continue reading this entry