Judge Certifies Class in Wrong Number TCPA Case Involving Collection Calls

A District Court judge in Arizona has certified a class in a Telephone Consumer Protection Act case that alleged a financial institution made collection calls using an artificial or prerecorded voice to more than 1 million non-customers on their cell phones without first obtaining consent.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Head v. Citigroup can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff, who has never been a customer of the defendant, received more than 100 robocalls between October and December 2017 that were looking for a man named Jack Bingham, who the plaintiff did not know, regarding his overdue credit card account.

The plaintiff filed a class-action lawsuit, alleging the defendant violated Section 227(b)(1)(A)(iii) of the TCPA by making calls using an artificial or prerecorded voice to a cell phone without first obtaining the consent of the consumer. The plaintiff is seeking to include anyone who received a call using an artificial or prerecorded voice for a past-due credit card account on their cell phone, but who was not a customer of the defendant. The plaintiff estimates that there are more than 1 million potential class members, based on the “practical conclusion” that the defendant makes 2.5 billion such calls a year, and a percentage of those “must be wrong numbers,” like the plaintiff’s. Noting that more than 100,00 cell phone numbers are reassigned every day, and given the “enormous” number of collection calls that the defendant makes, “it seems virtually impossible that Citibank has not robocalled at least 40 different persons whom Citibank did not have authorization to call,” determined Judge Roslyn O. Silver of the District Court for the District of Arizona.

Judge Silver did make one concession in certifying the class proposed by the plaintiff. Back in 2017, the defendant changed the indicator codes it uses in its databases, which the defendant says makes it more difficult to determine when and how phone indicator codes changed on accounts prior to that date. “Down the road,” wrote Judge Silver, she might reconsider amending the class definition to individuals who received calls beginning in November or December of 2017 rather than as far back as 2014.

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