American Institutions Continue to Ignore Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) Laws leading to TCPA Violations Lawsuits
If you have received an automated call from a telemarketer on your cellphone without giving them 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 violation.
As of October, 2013, according to TCPA violations code, prior express written consent was 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 telemarketer 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, telemarketers 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, and other unlawful practices. As a result, people have brought lawsuits in Ohio against these companies, and have settled for millions of dollars.
Joe Lyon is a highly-rated Cincinnati, Ohio lawyer representing plaintiffs nationwide in a wide variety of consumer protection claims. TCPA violations are an invasion of privacy and legal action may be required.
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.
Telephone Consumer Protection Act Laws
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.
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
Ohio TCPA Settlements
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 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.
Ohio 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.
If you have received unlawful and pestering marketing calls and have questions about the legal options available in Ohio, contact The Lyon Firm (800) 513-2403. You will speak directly with Mr. Lyon, and he will help you answer critical questions regarding TCPA violations.