A federal judge ordered Bank of America to pay a Florida couple just over $1 million after a company subsidiary harassed them with hundreds of collection calls over a four-year period, ABC News reported.
The judge awarded Nelson and Joyce Coniglio $1,051,000 — roughly $1,500 for each of the 700 automated “robocalls” the Coniglios received after they fell behind on the mortgage for their second home in suburban Tampa. The pre-recorded calls began not long after the bank took over the mortgage in 2009.
“We would be out at dinner and they would ring my mother’s cellphone,” the couple’s son, Jason Coniglio, told the Tampa Bay Times. “Then they would call my dad’s cellphone and then when we got back to the house, there would be another message on the answering machine.”
The Coniglios sued the bank in July, arguing that on top of the hundreds of calls, they also received “threatening collection letters asserting false and misleading information.” The suit also said that the calls continued even after the couple asked for them to stop, a violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
“If I did what Bank of America did, I’d probably be behind bars,” Joyce Coniglio told WTSP-TV.
The bank defended its actions in a statement to ABC News, saying it was trying to help the couple avoid foreclosure.
“Because our calls were not answered and our efforts to help the Coniglios avoid foreclosure were urgent, these calls continued,” Senior Vice President Dan Frahm said. “We are committed to help homeowners in need of assistance avoid foreclosure.”
ABC reported that Bank of America was ordered to pay $32 million last September in another settlement involving a class action suit filed by 7.7 million customers over “robocalls.” And the bank was forced to fire a collection company based out of Texas in 2010 after ABC reported that it used profanities and racial slurs while contacting lenders.
Watch ABC’s report on the Coniglios’ court victory, as aired on Thursday, below.