What is the Telephone Consumer Protection Act?
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) went into effect in 1991. The law was designed to protect people from unwanted marketing and solicitation via telephone and text message. The law created the National Do Not Call Registry, a list that people can join if they do not wish to receive solicitation calls.
Once on the list, consumers are protected from calls from businesses. Originally, a person had to renew his or her status on the registry every five years, but now joining keeps you on the list permanently.
When telemarketers are permitted to call, they must supply the call’s recipient with a name, phone number, and address, as well as information about the business for which they are calling. Additional provisions in the law prevent calls before 8 am or after 9 pm, and place a ban on the use of auto-dialers or robocalls.
Can I File a Robo Call Lawsuit?
Despite the existence of the TCPA and the Do Not Call Registry, telemarketers continue to violate the rights of consumers. They contact people on the registry and ignore the other restrictions within the law.
If you have been the victim of a robocall or you believe your rights were violated in any way by a telemarketer, you might have a lawsuit against the company. Compensation could be available even if you were not the intended recipient of the call.
The following companies can be sued if they violate the TCPA:
- Debt collectors
- Credit card companies
- Student loan companies
- Mortgage companies
- Check-cashing companies
- Calls from companies running “sweepstakes” and “contests”
How Do Telemarketers Violate the TCPA?
Every day, telemarketing companies across the country violate the restrictions of the TCPA. Many of them use auto-dialers, which is electronic equipment or software that makes it possible for them to dial phone numbers without human support. There could be a living person on the other end of the phone when you answer an auto-dialed call, so sometimes it’s tough to tell if one is used. However, if a recording greets you if you pick up, the call was definitely made using auto-dialer.
Autodialed calls can also be identified by a period of silence before someone comes on the line when you pick up or a hang-up call.
It is illegal for telemarketers to use actions banned by the TCPA. This is true even if you do not answer your phone. If an autodialed or robocall leaves a message, the message must include instructions for how to opt out of the calls via a toll-free phone number.
Furthermore, the law can apply to debt collector calls. If you tell a debt collector they have called the wrong number and they continue to contact you, they are in violation of the TCPA. The TCPA also applies to political calls, as long as they are made to a landline and not a cell phone.
Several companies have already settled lawsuits filed against them regarding violations of the TCPA, including:
- Caribbean Cruise Line
- Capital One
- Dish Network
- AT&T Mobile
- Bank of America
- Wells Fargo
- Lifetime Fitness
These are just a few of the companies that have had to pay multi-million settlements to people whose rights were violated by aggressive and illegal telemarketing tactics.
If you’ve noticed hang up calls or you’ve received messages that appear to be in violation of the TCPA, you could be eligible to file a lawsuit against the company making the calls. Victims of Robo and auto-dialed calls could be eligible to receive up to $1500 per call.
Every situation is different. If you’d like to know more about your rights under the TCPA, contact an attorney.