MICHIGAN (WNEM/ KMOV.com) - Relentless robocallers just keep calling and calling.
“I was getting so many of these calls a day," said Doc Compton, founder of robocalls.cash. "I literally couldn’t get anything done.”
Compton's not alone. The Attorney General's Office reported more than 1 billion robocalls across Michigan last year. Robocallers are persistent, can disguise their numbers and will try anything to get you to pick up the phone. If you're unwary and pick up, prepare to hear a sales pitch for almost anything.
“Vacation clubs, you have solar panels, health insurance calls, car warranty calls," said Mike Sharrah, of Midland. “As soon as they hang up with you, they’re calling the next guy.”
"We all hate one thing, and that is robocalls," Compton said.
That's why Compton decided to take matters into his own hands, and found a way to make money by actually answering the calls.
“The #1 way to get them to stop calling is to hit them in their pocketbook," Compton said. "Make them pay you a couple thousand dollars and you’d be amazed how quickly you end up on their internal do not call list.”
Compton sells a $47 kit online to teach others how to turn annoying calls into stacks of cash.
The process has three main steps: Answering the call, gathering information about who the company is and then sending a demand letter provided in Compton's kit.
“They don’t want to end up in court," Compton said "They’ll tend to negotiate with you and maybe even strike a settlement with you.”
Compton said that's because paying a couple thousand to you, is a lot easier than facing huge fines from the federal government. The tactic is based around the Telephone Consumer Protection Act put into law in 1991.
“They have to have your express prior written consent because that’s what the law requires of them," Compton said. "If they don’t have that and they call you with one of these automated dialing systems and you’re on the do not call registry, then it can have heavy statutory penalties. Ranging from $500-$3,000 per call.”
While that sounds like good money, Compton emphasizes this is not a get rich quick scheme. It can be an intensive process, but has had success.
One successful Mid-Michigander is Mike Sharrah and his wife.
“My wife has made $39,000," Sharrah said.
Now when Sharrah answers a robocall, instead of feeling annoyed, he's ready to make money. He said his wife fields the calls and he does the legwork, gathering information on the robocallers.
“Most are eager to settle," Sharrah said. "Of course they lowball you, but you just have to master the art of negotiating. The ultimate goal is obviously to make money, but it’s to shut these guys down so we can get our phones back.”
“We know collectively as a movement we’ve hit the robocall industry for millions and millions of dollars,” Compton said.
But until stricter laws are passed, the robocallers will keep doing what they do best - keep calling.
“I’ve had many conversations with robocallers who’ve told me that they’re not going to stop," Compton said. "'You can change the laws and the technology, we’ll find a way around it because we simply make too much money to stop.'”
Compton said Congress needs to bring about heavier fines for robocallers and cover attorney fees. He believes that will incentivize law firms to stand up for consumers. But until then, the consumers will have to stand up for themselves.
“In the meantime, we’ll keep putting in time," Sharrah said. "And keep making money.”
And keep robocallers in check.
If you're interested in Compton's robocall kit, you can find more information at robocalls.cash.