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, 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 against these companies, and have settled for millions of dollars.
Joe Lyon is a highly rated Ohio lawyer representing plaintiffs nationwide in a wide variety of consumer protection claims.
The TCPA is 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 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.
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
• Check-cashing companies
• Politicians and Political parties—automated political calls and prerecorded messages are not permitted to cellphones.
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 autodialer to call thousands of consumers’ cell phones. 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
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.
If you have received unlawful and pestering marketing calls and have questions about the legal options available, contact The Lyon Firm (800) 513-2403. You will speak directly with Mr. Lyon, and he will help you answer these critical questions.