We have all gotten those annoying calls just as we are sitting down to dinner—someone trying to sell you something you do not want or need. Even as many of us have gotten rid of our landlines and opted to go mobile, telemarketers eventually find us and not only call our cell phones, but send text messages as well. What most of us do not know is that many of these calls and messages are completely illegal. Discover your rights under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) of 1991 so that you can put an end to these calls.
What the TCPA Prohibits
In general, the TCPA limits when and how often a telemarketer can call and bans the use of pre-recording automated robocalls. Following are the key provisions of the TCPA:
Calls to consumers must be made between the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.
Companies must maintain a “Do Not Call” list and honor any request from a consumer to not be called again.
Marketers may not send unsolicited advertisements by auto-dialer, prerecorded voice message, or fax to anyone without prior express consent.
Customers must be able to opt-out of future robocalls during a robocall. If there is an opt-out requested, the call must be disconnected immediately and no future calls can be made to that consumer by that organization.
As this act was written before cell phone technology was fully developed, the original text does not include text messaging, but that has since been included as well. Calls that are exempt from the TCPA include calls made on behalf of a non-profit organization, calls not made for commercial purposes, and calls that do not include an unsolicited advertisement.
What Consumers Can Do to Protect Their Rights
The first step in stopping telemarketers is to place your name on the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) Do Not Call list. If, after that, you continue to receive unsolicited calls—or you suspect a company of illegal robocalls—you may take legal action, including the following:
File suit in local court for damages for each violation. The TCPA sets damages at $500 per violation, but, in some cases, the courts can triple those damages. Similar suits may be filed for violations of the TCPA’s provisions regarding faxes, auto-dialers, and artificial or prerecorded messages.
File a complaint with the FCC, which has the power to assess penalties against parties in violation of the TCPA.
If you have taken these actions and are still being harassed by a telemarketer, fill out the form on this page to see if we can help. We will get back to you as quickly as possible.