For those who hate getting unsolicited telemarketing calls, the Do-Not-Call Registry and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) are great tools that protect consumers from unwanted telemarketers. Both can cut down significantly on the number of telemarketing calls that consumers receive to either residential landlines or cell phones.
Do Not Call Registry
Several years ago, the Federal Trade Commission created the National Do Not Call Registry. Consumers can contact the FTC and place their phone numbers on the Do Not Call Registry. Once a consumer’s number is on the registry, telemarketers should stop making telemarketing calls shortly thereafter. If a business does not do so, then the consumer can file a complaint with the FTC.
The TCPA requires that telemarketers obtain prior express written consent from prospective customers before using automated or prerecorded technology, sometimes called robocalls, to make marketing calls to either cell phones or residential landlines. The TCPA does not, however, apply to calls that are dialed manually. The law also does not apply to “informational” or “transactional” calls. The law generally permits robocalls from charities asking for donations. Commercial robocalls are illegal unless the consumer provides prior express written consent.
What is “prior express written consent”?
The prior express written consent clause of the TCPA requires businesses to clearly state to a prospective customer that it wishes to obtain consent to make marketing calls using automated systems. The business must also notify the consumer that such consent is not required to purchase anything. Consumers can either sign a form or check a box on an electronic form to give consent.
TCPA and Cell Phones
Telemarketers who call cell phones can be particularly frustrating to some consumers because repeatedly taking calls from telemarketers can eventually lead to a consumer using up valuable cell-phone minutes. If the consumer goes over his or her allotted number of minutes, then he or she may face significant financial penalties from the cell-phone carrier. Even more than calls to landlines, consumers often find robo-dialed calls to cell phones particularly intrusive, because the cell phone is always with you, making it difficult to escape telemarketers and intruding on important work-related or personal calls. And with the rise of personal digital assistants built into cell phones, many consumers rely on their cell phones to run their lives. For example, it can feel particularly invasive when a telemarketer calls – or texts – when a consumer is trying to book an child’s appointment with a doctor and enter it into an iPhone or Android calendar.
Penalties to Businesses
Businesses can face stiff fines for violating either the laws that govern the Registry or the TCPA. Unfortunately, there remain some unscrupulous businesses that try to skirt the law by “spoofing” phone numbers. Spoofing is when a business or other entity pretends to be another entity. In telephone spoofing, the caller will falsify his real number with that of a randomly created number or of a number that looks legitimate in order to trick a consumer into picking up the phone and putting his or her guard down. The Federal government regularly tracks businesses that do this, but modern technology can make it relatively easy for individuals to spoof phone numbers and email addresses that can confuse consumers.
Contact an Attorney
The law regulating telemarketing and consumer protection can be complex and can prove to be stressful if you don’t have adequate representation. If you are looking for a dedicated and knowledgeable attorney that will help you navigate the legal system to protect your rights, then contact the Bromberg Law Office, P.C. and make an appointment today.