The Telephone Consumer Protection Act and Robocalls: What are Your Rights?

For decades telemarketers have been an annoyance to nearly everyone. Back when people relied predominantly on landline telephones the complaint was that these marketers had a knack for calling within minutes of our sitting down to the dinner table. These calls were annoying, but they did not cost us anything but time. But society in general switched to the cell phone, and the problem became more serious—these irritating and unwanted calls were also costing us money. Making matters worse,And rather than being a person on the other end of the line the telemarketing industry shifted to the practice of robocalling to robocalls.. Fortunately, legislators have responded to the problem.

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act

The first big major law that addressed the problem of telemarketers was the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which Congress passed back in 1991. It The TCPA restricted the use of automatic telephone dialing systems and artificial or prerecorded voice messages which are what are used to make—necessary tools for making robocalls. Then, in 2012, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) made the regulations under this law even stronger. The new regulations place three main requirements on telemarketers:

1. They must obtain prior express written consent from you before robocalling you
2. They cannot use an “established business relationship” with you as an excuse to get out of getting your consent to be robocalled, and
3. They must provide an automated interactive “opt-out” mechanism during each robocall to give you a way to immediately tell them to stop calling despite the fact that a real person is not calling you.

So What Happens When Robocallers Break the Law?

A unique and wonderful portion of theWhat gives the TCPA is itsthat, unlike many other federal statutes, it actually created a private right of action for consumers. This means that if telemarketers violate the law, it is not just a matter of federal regulators fining them. Instead, you can actually file a lawsuit against the telemarketer and in some cases be entitled to significant damages. Each call constitutes a separate violation of the law. For each violation of the law you can sue for either the actual damages caused to you by the call or up to $1,500, whichever is greater. This means that if you are called in violation of the law just ten times, you could sue for as much as $15,000. Depending on how abusive the company is, the total damages can add up quite quickly.

The largest settlement ever under the act was reported on last year by The National Law Review. In that case Capital One and three debt collection agencies agreed to pay a class action settlement of $75.5 million. What had they done? The company was accused of using an automated dialer to call customers without their consent. While the companies did not explicitly admit to any wrongdoing in that case, the case shows that consumers’ rights under the law can be vindicated. If you have been subjected to robocalls without your consent you should immediately seek out the assistance of a consumer protection lawyer like Brian Bromberg, as you too may be entitled to compensation.