Telemarketer Violations Of The TCPA

Telemarketer Violations Of The TCPA 2018-06-20T17:16:26+00:00
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Telemarketing is strictly regulated by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, a federal law that restricts the use of autodialer systems and pre-recorded voice messages. Breaking the law can be costly. The TCPA allows people just like you to file suit for financial compensation.

  • Secure financial damages - up to $1,500 per illegal robocall or text
  • Stop the harassment and protect other consumers
  • Contact our attorneys today for a free consultation

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If you're receiving illegal robocalls, you can do something about it. Most people just ignore the calls, but they're leaving money on the table.

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Frustrated by constant telemarketing calls? You can do something about it.

Civil Telemarketing Lawsuits

Telemarketing is one of the most heavily-regulated industries in America. In fact, most telemarketers can't even call you unless you've given them permission first. That's the law, but it hasn't stopped thousands of companies from spamming us with an endless stream of annoying telemarketing calls. What you do about it is up to you.

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Under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), a federal law passed in 1991, normal people like you and me can file civil lawsuits against telemarketers who break the law. If you can prove that a telemarketer broke the TCPA, you can win up to $1,500 per illegal phone or text message they sent you. Obviously, it pays to pay attention to robocalls.

The Federal Law On Telemarketing

So what does a violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act look like?

Before we cover the most common violations, we should note that most of the TCPA's rules center on a principle of consent. Violations become legal, if you've given the telemarketer your prior express consent. For example, it's illegal for a telemarketer to robocall your cell phone unless you've given them written permission to do so.

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Likewise, it's illegal for a telemarketer to send you a prerecorded voice message on a landline unless you've given them prior consent. As a result, many TCPA lawsuits ultimately come down to this basic question: did you or did you not provide the telemarketer sufficient consent to call or text you?

Common TCPA Violations

With that caveat out of the way, these are things a telemarketer is not allowed to do without prior express consent:

  • Call you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., your local time
  • Call your home phone using a prerecorded voice message
  • Call your cell phone using a prerecorded voice message
  • Call your cell phone using an autodialer system
  • Call someone who's on the National Do-Not-Call Registry more than 31 days after their number has been added to the Registry (applies only to sales calls, ones in which a good or service is advertised for sale, or a telemarketer offers to provide a service for an up-front fee)
  • Call someone who's on the company's internal do-not-call list
  • Comply with your requests (if you tell a telemarketer to stop calling you, they have to stop)

And these are things a telemarketer must do to remain within the law:

  • Provide identifying information (their own name, the name of the company or person on whose behalf they're calling you and a phone number or address where that company or person can be contacted) - as a corollary, telemarketers are prohibited from misrepresenting themselves, though it's common for scam artists to pose as government officials, law enforcement officers or representatives of legitimate companies
  • Maintain and comply with an internal company do-not-call list
  • Transmit accurate caller ID information (including a company name, if possible)
  • Notify you that you are not required to consent to receive robocalls to become eligible for purchasing a good or service

These rules aren't just for telemarketers. Anyone who wants to use an autodialer system or prerecorded voice messages to call someone they don't know personally has to follow the TCPA. That includes credit card companies, retailers, mortgage lenders and student loan companies.

Exceptions To The Law

Some industries, on the other hand, have been made exempt from most or all of the TCPA's provisions, including companies who perform surveys, political organizations, nonprofit charitable organizations and debt collection agencies, who are covered by a different law, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

How Autodialers Drove The Rise In Spam Calls

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act was enacted in 1991 to crack down on irritating spam telemarketing calls. At the time, telemarketers were just becoming familiar with a new technology, one that allowed them to automatically dial phone numbers at an extraordinary rate.

The autodialer (first a physical machine, now computer software) was able to store phone numbers, select them (either at random or in sequence) and dial them, all without human intervention.

Obviously, autodialer technology made it far easier for telemarketers to place sales calls, especially when they were using prerecorded voice messages instead of live representatives.

Robocalls Have Skyrocketed

The results were easy to predict. A wave of unwanted sales calls began to flood the phones of American consumers. Using an autodialer and a 40-second prerecorded voice message, a telemarketer can make about 80 calls in an hour. Now just multiply that by thousands and thousands of autodialer systems operated by thousands of different companies.

This problem hasn't gone away. You probably know that already, because you probably get a few unwanted telemarketing calls every week. Or you might get even more than that. Chances are that all of those calls are illegal, especially when you're getting them on your cell phone.

Other Telemarketing Laws

The law also created the National Do-Not-Call Registry, a list, open to all American phone owners, of phone numbers that telemarketers aren't allowed to contact with sales calls. Once you're number is on the list, telemarketers have to stop calling within 31 days. If they continue to call you after that, they're breaking the law.

That's pretty strict, but it hasn't really worked very well. Nearly 80% of the American public has now registered their phone numbers on the National Do-Not-Call Registry, yet robocalls are on the rise. And, with the advent of text messaging, things have only gotten worse.

File A Private Lawsuit To Stop The Calls

The Federal Communications Commission receives more than 200,000 complaints about illegal robocalls every year, more than any other regulatory problem.

The Federal Trade Commission, who also regulates telemarketing activity, gets even more complaints, around 3.5 million in 2016 alone, CNBC reports. In many cases, it's up to individual citizens, who can take private legal action, to hold telemarketers accountable under the law.

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