The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) is an ever-evolving federal law that places limits on solicitors calling or texting your phone. The original version was passed in 1991 after Congress reported a surge in consumer complaints about telemarketing practices and pre-recorded messages. Since then, the TCPA has been amended every few years to keep pace with the arms race in telephone technology, solicitation efforts, and criminal creativity.
The TCPA is lengthy; over ten pages in its current form. Some of the key protections for consumers offered include:
- No phone calls to numbers on the Do Not Call registry (without consent)
- No phone calls using a pre-recorded message
- No solicitation calls or texts to cell phones (without consent)
- No phone calls before 8am or after 9pm
- Requirement that solicitors identify themselves and who they work for
- Requirement that solicitors honor “do not call” requests for 5 years
- Allows violators to be sued for up to $1500 per willful violation of the TCPA
Consent is crucial.
The 2012 upgrade of the TCPA stated that callers needed to obtain prior express written consent before calling to solicit. In response, marketers have spent the last ten years finding clever ways of including call-consent in the fine print. It’s not uncommon to unwittingly grant consent through magazine subscriptions, online forms, and app updates; much more devious and covert than the old sweepstakes or “sign up to win a free prize” approach to obtaining consent. If you were to track down how a telemarketer obtained your consent, you might be surprised by what you find.
Make the calls stop.
Take a three step approach to stopping obnoxious telemarketing calls.
First, doublecheck that they aren’t a protected category. Charities, surveys, non-profits, and pre-recorded calls from doctor’s offices, pharmacies, or local health departments are all excluded categories. You can ask these types to stop calling, but future legal recourse would not be through the TCPA.
Second, ensure your number is listed on the national Do-Not-Call registry. New entries on the list take one month to be activated. Third, inform the caller explicitly and in no uncertain terms that you want them to discontinue contacting you. If possible, have this conversation either recorded or communicated in a time-stamped written form.
If the solicitation calls or texts continue after you have completed these three steps, it might be time to consider getting a lawyer involved to fight back against the harassment.
Using the law designed to protect you.
Though the TCPA is a federal law, an unusual statutory provision means that most suits brought against violators of the law end up in state courts. In addition, the TCPA is accompanied by multiple intersecting, overlapping state and federal laws, like the The Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) and the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrent Act (TRACED). In order to make the strongest case in your favor, it’s best to work with an attorney that understands the interplay and nuances of related legislation.
The Law Offices of Jeffrey Lohman specialize in cases involving TCPA violations and other phone-related aspects of consumer protection law. Our staff provides expertise and legal representation for situations that involve illegal and harassing phone calls or texts. We can help you stop the abuse and take action. Contact us for help today.