If you have received an automated call or wrong number text message on your cellphone without giving the dialing company express written consent to contact you, this is illegal, and a clear violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). If you have ever told a telemarketer that they have the wrong number, and they continue to contact you, this is also a TCPA violation.
According to current TCPA violation code, prior express written consent is required for all autodialed and pre-recorded calls/texts sent to cell phones and pre-recorded calls made to residential land lines for marketing purposes.
A company utilizing automated dialing or texting applications must provide an option for the recipient to opt out of the calls. When answering a call, this option must be given at the beginning of the message, and when leaving voicemails, the dialer must provide toll-free call-back numbers so that recipients can add their phone numbers to a do-not-call list.
Unfortunately, many companies ignore the TCPA laws and “Do Not Call” registry option. They still engage in robocalling, autodialing, auot texting and other unlawful practices that constitute TCPA violations. As a result, people have brought lawsuits nationwide against companies that have resulted settlements for millions of dollars.
Joe Lyon is a highly-rated Ohio class action attorney lawyer representing plaintiffs nationwide in a wide variety of consumer protection claims including serving as lead counsel in several TCPA violation cases.
These non-consensual calls and texts are an invasion of privacy and legal action is often the only remedy to get them to cease.
What is the TCPA?
The TCPA is the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, a law passed 1991 by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that is meant to protect the public from constant unwanted marketing. The TCPA law allows individuals to file lawsuits and collect damages for receiving unsolicited telemarketing calls, faxes, pre-recorded calls or autodialed calls.
The law specifically prohibits companies from using autodialers to call people. An autodialed call involves a live person or pre-recorded message that is placed using an automatic telephone dialing system, which stores and calls telephone numbers using a random or sequential number generator. The utilization of any type of call software as part of a telemarketing operation may be part of TCPA violations and may violate the FCC’s definition of autodialing.
Companies violating these consumer protection laws utilize robocallers or autodialers to send SMS text messages to cell phones, which are considered calls under the TCPA statute. Callers must also provide their identities, phone numbers, and addresses.
If institutions violate any of the above, they may be subject to legal action. If you are unsure, please consult with an attorney who has expertise in telemarketing law.
Institutions with Frequent Robo Call Violations
In some recent reports, consumers have been inundated with spam phone calls and auto-dialer messages, sent from telecommunications companies and internet providers that are trying to advertise to old customers. This harassment may be illegal, and the companies can be held liable in spam call lawsuits.
The laws states clearly that companies and organizations may not call consumers on their home or cell phone if they are registered on the National Do Not Call Registry. Consumers who have received unsolicited and harassing robocalls may file a claim with the FCC and choose to pursue TCPA class action lawsuits.
When the law was first put in place, mobile phones were not common, and digital telecommunication technology was nowhere near what it is today. Now telemarketers and third-party call centers use sophisticated autodialer systems and huge phone number databases to pester consumers. There is a solution, however, and The Lyon Firm files spam call lawsuits following illegal telemarketing harassment.
The following types of institutions have a history of badgering consumers with unwanted phone calls, recordings and text messages:
• Debt collectors
• Credit card companies
• Student loan companies
• Mortgage companies
• Real estate agents
• Politicians and Political parties—automated political calls and prerecorded messages are not permitted to cellphones and can be TCPA violations
Hotel chains, retailers, debt collectors, real estate agents and insurance companies have been historically the biggest violators of TCPA guidelines. Whether they are aware of the laws or just ignore the regulations, it does not matter for plaintiffs. If any consumer is harassed unlawfully, a TCPA claim may be filed, and compensation can be sought.
The largest TCPA lawsuits in history have been settled by American corporations in the last few years. In August 2014, Capital One agreed to pay $75.5 million after allegedly using an auto-dialer to call thousands of consumers’ cell phones.
Since then, settlements have been piling up as the FCC and courts have been hitting back. Other notable lawsuits and sizable awards include the following:
• Caribbean Cruise Line $76 million
• U.S. Coachways $49 million
• AT&T $45 million
• HSBC $40 million
• Bank of America $32 million
• Midland Credit $20 million
• Dish Network $20.5 million
• Portfolio Recovery $18 million
• Wells Fargo $16 million
• Cynosure Inc. $16 million
• Wells Fargo $15 million
• Life Time Fitness $15 million
• Wells Fargo $14.5 million
• American Eagle $14.5 million
• Gannet Co. $13 million
• Walgreens $11 million
• Millward Brown $11 million
• American Express $9 million
• Steve Madden $10 million
Telemarketing Lawsuits & Auto-Dialer Harassment
Violators of TCPA laws not only engage in illegal marketing practice but show a disregard an inherent common courtesy that should protect the American consumer in their private life. Institutions must be held responsible for their actions, and individuals have the right to hire attorneys and fight companies for compensation.
If you never gave a company written consent, or if you enrolled in a “Do Not Call” registry, and marketers continue to solicit you, please contact an experienced consumer protection attorney. Any person who has received calls or messages that violate the TCPA may be able to file a lawsuit and seek compensation up to $1,500 per illegal call.
Consumers have the right to tell any company calling them to place them on a Do Not Call list. If the company does not respect this request, it may be time to contact an attorney. Settlements are now very likely, and have been very large in some cases.
Not every pre-recorded call or robocall call is from a trusted company and consumers are urged to exercise caution with any unsolicited phone call. Scams are likely with calls requesting personal information and payments.
The elderly are often targeted by scams and are often hit with scare tactics telling them they owe some agency money. This is more common than many realize, and consumer protection laws have been strengthened accordingly. But since phone companies have not responded to robocalling as fast as necessary, TCPA lawyers and consumer protection attorneys have taken action.
Not until 2017 were phone companies allowed to block calls from potential fraudulent callers. That year the FCC adopted new rules allowing phone companies to block calls that contain fraudulent Caller IDs.
Regulators still struggle to keep up, and with all the violations each day, the FTC has only brought 134 charges against companies and telemarketers for Do Not Call and robocall violations.
Not only are companies violating laws with unwanted calls but with cell phones are stepping up the harassment with unsolicited text messages, another TCPA violation that has spurred some class action lawsuits.
To protect yourself against robocalls and spam phone calls, you can take the following measures:
- Do not answer calls from unknown numbers or ones you don’t recognize.
- Never provide or confirm personal information during a call you don’t place to institutions you know well.
- Remove your name from outbound voicemail messages. Include only your phone number.
- Be wary of phone calls from your bank, IRS, or police department that request personal information.
- If you get a lot of robocalls, call your carrier, and also register your landline and cell phone number with the federal Do Not Call Registry at donotcall.gov.
- Report robocalls/unwanted calls to the FTC by calling 1-888-382-1222 and a local TCPA violation attorney.
Real Estate TCPA Lawsuits
A class action lawsuit in Florida has been filed against a RE/MAX real estate franchise, claiming the company harassed consumers with unsolicited marketing, violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. The TCPA is aimed at protecting consumer privacy, and the courts have taken such cases very seriously in recent years. TCPA litigation has forced the hand of telemarketers and settlements have discouraged the practice of spam calling.
This is only weeks after a North Carolina man filed a lawsuit against Keller Williams Realty for similar TCPA violations. The plaintiffs says unsolicited text messages were sent from Presidential Real Estate Group Inc., disturbing them, and likely many other consumers.
This sparked a nationwide class of people who have received unsolicited text messages in the last four years advertising RE/MAX Presidential’s real estate services. The lawsuit filed alleges RE/MAX Presidential willfully and knowingly violated TCPA laws and each class member may be entitled to $1,500 in statutory damages for each singular violation.
Recent real estate telemarketing lawsuits have brought to light the alleged use of auto-dialer technology in the real estate industry. Telemarketing services like Landvoice and RedX may be calling consumers who have not ask to be called.
When real estate agents subscribe to these phone services, consumers may be hit with multiple calls from real estate agents, thus leading to TCPA violations and lawsuits.
Plaintiffs are encouraged to save screen shots of unsolicited text messages sent to their phone after May 29, 2019. Some may be sent with real estate agents’ names and phone numbers. The RE/MAX messages have included messages like “Save Save Save Now” and “Is your home still for sale?”
Hotel TCPA Lawsuits
In December, 2017, a class of consumers filed claims against the Marriott Vacation Club in federal court for continued illegal marketing harassment and violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).
The complaint claims that the Marriott Vacation Club has been making unsolicited calls to cell phones despite the fact that the phone numbers are on the national “do-not-call” registry. Plaintiffs argue that Marriott Vacation Club has been making marketing calls with the use of an automatic dialing system followed by a prerecorded voice greeting.
The plaintiff argues that she did not give the Marriott Vacation Club prior written consent to call her cell phone and that she actively told Marriott to stop calling. The lawsuit is seeking $500 in damages for each of Marriott’s violations of the TCPA and up to $1,500 for every “knowing and willful violation” of the TCPA.
Attorneys say that the class will be nationwide and damages may exceed $5 million. Other vacation clubs, including the following, may soon be investigated for similar illegal practices:
- Four Seasons
TCPA Violation Lawyer
Contact The Lyon Firm with any questions regarding telemarketing harassment. The law can be difficult to understand, and Mr. Lyon can help answer your critical questions.
Consumers have a right to privacy and when companies fail to respect that, they can held accountable and lawsuits may be the only way to curb their irritating marketing tactics.
Settlements in TCPA Violation cases compensate each plaintiffs, and fines can reach upwards of a thousand of dollars for each call, depending on circumstances and company intention.
The FCC restrictions listed on the government Web site states the following:
- Any residential telephone call before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. is a TCPA violation.
- A call or text to a residential telephone number on the national do-not-call registry is a violation.
- As of 2013, prior express written consent is required for all autodialed calls, pre-recorded calls or texts
- Pre-recorded messages left on an answering service may also be illegal in some cases, and each call can be a violation
Artificial and pre-recorded voice telephone messages must identity the business, individual, or other entity that is responsible for initiating the call at the beginning of the message. During or after the voice or text message, the call must state the telephone number of that business, entity, or individual.
The number provided may not be a number that incurs long distance charges. It must also give the consumer an automated, interactive voice- and/or key press-activated opt-out mechanism for a a do-not-call request.
Telemarketing exceptions include the following:
- Calls that are manually dialed, without a pre-recorded message
- Calls made for emergency purposes
- Calls without a sales pitch or a commercial purpose
- Robocalls made by or on behalf of a tax-exempt nonprofit organization