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In context: How fast do you think companies would cease robocalling you if you sued them every time they called? Robot-lawyer startup DoNotPay wants to find out by making it easy for you to do just that with its Robo Revenge service.
The fight against robocalls is real. We have documented the government's efforts to curtail these annoying telephone spammers many times in recent months. Laws have been strengthened, and the FCC and FTC have been given broader authority to institute higher fines against companies that spam out tens of billions of calls through automated systems.
Now DoNotPay is getting involved. DoNotPay describes itself as the "world's first robot lawyer." Its app allows people to do anything from fighting traffic tickets to offering advice on licensing agreements.
On Thursday, the startup launched a new service called Robo Revenge that allows users to go after robocallers. DoNotPay will gather the info on unwanted automated calls and help consumers sue the infringing companies for up to $3,000. The service is available through the DoNotPay app or its website. Vice notes that the process is relatively straightforward.
Robo Revenge will first put your number on the Do Not Call Registry to be sure that any unsolicited robocalls you receive become a violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). After that, whenever you receive a call, you will give the caller credit card details generated by DoNotPay. These are the same virtual credit cards the company hands out to users to sign up for free trials.
The app will use the credit card transaction to collect details on the company spamming your number. It will then use this info to generate demand letters and file court proceedings automatically on your behalf.
The service intends to disincentivize companies from autocalling consumers by hitting them in the pocketbook.
"All of the big companies like AT&T and Apple have failed to protect consumers," said DoNotPay's Founder and CEO Joshua Browder. "The only way the problem will end is if the robocallers start losing money every time they call someone."
The service comes with one fairly significant caveat --- it only works for US-based companies.
"You can't sue [overseas firms] because you don't even know where they are," said Browder.
This is too bad since so many of these scammers operate out of other countries. Even were you to identify the offending company, getting them to pay up on a default judgment is probably a lost cause.
Of course, for the program to work, you still have to deal with the phone scammers --- listening to their spiels and giving them DoNotPay's auto-generated credit card info. Yet, for the possibility of a $3,000 settlement, it's not a bad prospect.