When you receive a phone call in the 21st century, most every phone (including landlines) has a feature where you can see the number that has dialed you, in addition to the relative location of the caller. It’s hard to imagine a time where this wasn’t the case, but it was just a few decades ago. In the second half of the 20th century, unwanted telemarketing was a huge source of frustration for many households. It seemed that the phone would always ring just as people were sitting down to a nice, hot meal.
Fortunately, Congress came up with a solution to this and passed the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) in 1991. It has since been added to several times and has dramatically cut down on the amount of unsolicited calls from businesses and other for-profit entities.
The original act was written when landlines ruled and cell phones were an emerging technology. Since then, it has been decided that calls and SMS texts to cell phones also apply under the provisions of the TCPA. Also, to the extent that faxes are still used, the TCPA’s protections extend to this form of communication, as well.
Key rules and protections set forth under the TCPA include:
- The law requires callers using an automated message to get express written consent from callers before calling
- The TCPA prohibits telemarketers’ using automated dialers for non-emergency calls without the permission of the call’s recipient
- It mandates that companies use internal do-not-call lists of consumers who have expressed that they do not want to receive calls
- In 2003, the popular National Do-Not-Call (DNC) Registry was created, which allows consumers to place their numbers on a list that covers all telemarketers. Under the amended TCPA, telemarketers must abide by the DNC Registry.
- Callers must include an option for consumers to remove their name from their calling lists if they use robocalls to disseminate the message to those consumers.
What Can You Do if Your Rights Are Violated?
Fortunately for consumers, there are monetary damages that may be awarded for violations of the TCPA. At a minimum, consumers may be able to recover $500 per violation. That total is bumped up to $1,500 if the violation is proved to be willful. Many consumers who wish to file claims related to TCPA violations do so in small claims court, but, occasionally, class-action lawsuits concerning TCPA violations are filed.
Receiving unwanted telephone calls is annoying and frustrating, but many consumers are not aware that those calls may be against federal law and entitle them to cash payouts. If telemarketers are harassing you and you want to see an end to it, please consider calling Ciment Law Firm at 833-779-9993 to discuss your options.