Earlier today, we told you about a $1 million judgement against Bank of America for making five years of unwanted robocalls to a couple who sent the bank multiple cease and desist demands. Since then, BofA has reached out to Consumerist with an explanation that is too funny to just post as an update within that story.
Here’s the statement from a Sr. VP of Communications at Bank of America:
“Bank of America has helped 2 million homeowners avoid foreclosure. Our calls to the [plaintiffs] were not to collect a debt, but rather to help them avoid foreclosure after they fell behind on their mortgage payments in 2009. Because our calls were not answered and our efforts to help the [plaintiffs] avoid foreclosure were urgent, these calls continued. We are committed to help homeowners in need of assistance avoid foreclosure.”
For fun, let’s dissect the risible points of this statement.
First: “Our calls to the [plaintiffs] were not to collect a debt, but rather to help them avoid foreclosure after they fell behind on their mortgage payments in 2009.”
What difference does it make whether these calls were to collect a debt or to “help” the homeowners avoid a foreclosure? The lawsuit alleged violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which doesn’t distinguish between the purpose of robocalls made by businesses.
Granted, the initial complaint had also alleged violations of the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, but that part of the suit was dropped in the amended motion for default judgement. Had it remained, then BofA might have a reason to point out the nature of these calls, though that still doesn’t do anything to forgive the fact that the bank continued to call for five years after receiving cease-and-desist notices and multiple requests from the plaintiffs for the calls to stop.
Second: “Because our calls were not answered and our efforts to help the [plaintiffs] avoid foreclosure were urgent, these calls continued.”
Except the calls were answered, according to the plaintiffs and their lawyers, who claim that multiple written requests were sent to — and subsequently acknowledged by — BofA. Additionally, the plaintiffs say they made multiple verbal requests for the bank to stop its calls.
It seems like the bank may be trying to lay the groundwork for arguing the “emergency” exception for certain robocalls under the TCPA, but what sort of emergency lasts for half a decade?
And when you consider the countless reports of Bank of America botching its communications with homeowners facing foreclosure — not to mention sworn affidavits from former BofA employees who testified that the bank rewarded staffers for pushing homeowners into foreclosure — it’s hard to believe that anyone at the bank was actively concerned about why they weren’t hearing from the plaintiffs.
by Chris Morran via Consumerist