Did you know you could file a lawsuit for those pesky, automated spam calls you receive from telemarketers? We’ve all received them, and most of the time, we choose not to answer or hang up when we hear an automated message. However, certain spam calls are a legal violation, and there are times when people can receive compensation for this type of harassment.
Some companies use robocalls to repeatedly contact consumers, even though it’s illegal to do so. Oftentimes, corporations will compile a list of contacts into a machine so that they can push out robocalls to thousands of people. This violates an important legal right that comes from the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) of 1991.
Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)
Telemarketing has been in use since the early 1980s as it provides a cheaper option for companies than making personal sales calls. In 1991, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act made this type of advertising illegal in order to protect customers from these solicitations. The TCPA prohibits the use of automated dialing systems and artificial or prerecorded voice messages or text messages. It also orders companies to have written consent to call someone using a prerecorded message.
Keep in mind that the TCPA doesn’t cover spam calls from just anybody. The types of calls covered by the TCPA are those from a legitimate company that doesn’t have your permission to contact you. If the consumer hasn’t provided written consent to be contacted, the caller may be in violation of the TCPA.
Separate from the TCPA, the Federal Trade Commission built a Do Not Call Registry in 2003, creating further rules to prohibit telemarketers from making unsolicited commercial sales calls. The Do Not Call Registry is a database of phone numbers of people who have requested to not be contacted by telemarketers.
Unless someone has consented to receiving automated calls, they are entitled to protections under the TCPA. The TCPA:
- Prohibits solicitations using an artificial voice or recording to residences before 8 am or after 9 pm local time.
- Ensures solicitors have a Do Not Call list of customers who’ve asked not to be called.
- Requires solicitors to honor the Do Not Call Registry.
- Prohibits calls using automated voice recordings to emergency lines (such as 911), health care facilities, or telephone lines of patient rooms in hospitals.
For a free legal consultation, call 800-934-6555
A major exception to the types of spam calls covered by the TCPA are those from people who aren’t from an actual company.
Calls are also exempt from the TCPA if:
- The call is made by a tax-exempt nonprofit organization
- The call is not made for commercial purposes
How to Prevent Robocalls
Robocalls can be interruptive if you’re not expecting them. The best ways to prevent these unwanted calls are:
- Avoid answering calls from unknown numbers
- Even though the caller ID may be coming from a local number, it can still be a spam call
- If you do answer a robocall, hang up immediately
- Don’t respond to any questions or provide personal information
- Add your phone number to the Do Not Call Registry
- Look into apps you can download on your phone that prevent unwanted callers
- See if your phone company offers a call blocking service
Compensation is available for people who have received unwarranted robocalls, even if the call received was accidental on the part of the corporation. The TCPA allows people to bring legal action in state court if they’ve received more than one robocall within the same 12-month period from the same entity. If they had to pay for the call they received, they will receive the amount that they lost. Otherwise, they will receive up to $500 per violation, depending on which amount is greater.
If the corporation knew they were using telemarketing without someone’s permission, the court may award up to $1,500 per violation.
Often, defendants in TCPA lawsuits may try to argue that they did have consent or that they didn’t use an automatic dialing system. If you know that you’ve been hounded by robocalls without giving consent, know that you have the legal right to take action.
Pintas & Mullins Can Help
If you’ve received unwanted automated messages or robocalls from a corporation, let our team of experienced lawyers assist you in filing a legal claim. Call us for a free legal consultation today at (800) 934-6555. You don’t need any money to hire us, and we don’t get paid unless we secure a settlement or verdict on your behalf.