A class-action suit alleges DirecTV called people who weren’t customers about debt collection, a violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
Why it matters
The satellite TV company has agreed to pay out $17 million to affected individuals.
The deadline to file a claim in the case is Dec. 19.
Did you receive a robocall about your DirecTV bill — even though you aren’t a customer? If so, you may be eligible for part of a $17 million settlement the company is paying out to resolve claims its debt collectors called hundreds of thousands of noncustomers. But the deadline to submit a claim in the case is tomorrow.
Plaintiffs in Brown, et al. v. DirecTV allege the satellite TV provider contracted third-party companies to make debt-collection robocalls that violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, a 1991 law that requires express consent to send prerecorded messages to cell phones.
Though it has agreed to the deal, DirecTV has denied any wrongdoing.
“While we reject the allegations in this lawsuit as we have extensive procedures in place to comply with the TCPA, we decided to settle this nearly decade-old case,” a DirecTV spokesperson told CNET in an emailed statement.
Read on to find out if you’re eligible for money from the DirecTV settlement, how much you could get and what you need to do to file a claim.
What is DirecTV accused of in the class action suit?
In a complaint filed in California District Court, lead plaintiffs Jenny Brown and Carmen Montijo allege DirecTV hired several outside agencies — iQor, Credit Management, Enhanced Recovery and AFNI — to call customers about overdue payments.
But the companies called at least 220,000 unique wrong numbers belonging to people who never ordered DirecTV, according to the settlement notice (PDF), which adds that DirecTV “either knew or consciously avoided knowing” what the telemarketing agencies were doing.
DirecTV argued it should not be held responsible for the actions of third-party agencies. It also denies that the calls violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
In 2005, DirecTV was forced by the Federal Trade Commission to pay a $5.3 million fine after a telemarketing company it contracted called individuals who were on the national do-not-call registry. At the time, It was the largest civil fine ever imposed by the FTC for a violation of a consumer protection law.
“The do-not-call rule applies to all players in the marketing chain, including retailers and their telemarketers,” then-FTC Chair Deborah Platt Majoras said in a statement.
More recently, a West Virginia judge in August granted class action status to a separate suit accusing DirecTV of spamming customers with unsolicited marketing calls.
Who is eligible for money from the DirecTV settlement?
Anyone who hasn’t been a DirecTV customer since October 2004 but received a non-emergency automated debt-collection call on their cellphone from DirecTV or one of the third-party collection agencies is eligible.
The call must have been made between Aug 14, 2009, and Dec. 4, 2015, and have used a prerecorded or artificial voice.
How much could I get from DirecTV?
Individual class members will get a share of the $17 million payout, depending on which agency called them. The exact dollar value of each share depends on how many people file successful claims.
According to the settlement, consumers who were contacted by iQor or Credit Management would be eligible for two shares, or about $600, per call. Those contacted by Enhanced Recovery or AFNI would get one share, or $300, per call.
The deadline to object to the terms of the settlement or to request to be excluded from it was Nov. 18.
How do I file a claim?
Many class members have been sent postcards and emails indicating they qualify for the settlement. If you believe you are eligible but did not receive a notification, you can submit a claim on the settlement website or mail in a completed form to:
DIRECTV Prerecord TCPA Settlement Administrator
P.O. Box 25356
Richmond, VA 23260
No proof is required, although you will have to provide the telephone numbers that were called.
The deadline to file a claim is Dec. 19.
When will class members get their money from DirecTV?
A final hearing to approve the settlement is scheduled for Feb. 24.
Payouts would begin after that, but any appeals could slow down the process by as much as a year, according to the notice — which asks claimants to “be patient.”