The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) is a federal law that restricts when and how companies can call you to solicit and also to attempt to collect debts. It also regulates the use of SMS text messages and fax machines for solicitation purposes. It is also the law under which the regulation creating the more familiar National Do-Not-Call Registry was made.
The restrictions that the TCPA places on solicitation calls include:
- No automated, prerecorded or artificial voice calls are allowed to your cell phone.
- Calls are prohibited outside the hours of 9 P.M. to 8 A.M.
- Any person making a solicitation call must identify themselves, who they represent and a telephone number and address at which the entity they represent can be reached.
- Telemarketers must immediately comply with any do-not-call request you make during the phone call.
- If registered on the National Do-Not-Call List, your telephone number is off limits to solicitation phone calls unless you have given express permission to the entity that calls you.
Further restrictions were also placed on banks and debt collections agencies to include:
- Your permission is required before they contact you on your cell phone by voice or by text.
- They must use real phone numbers when they call you. “Spoofing,” as it is called when you create a fake caller ID, is prohibited.
The Federal Communications Commission has also created rules under the law that now require prior written consent to be obtained for automatic dialing systems and artificial voice/pre-recorded to be used to call landlines, as well. These restrictions typically do not apply to someone with whom you have an “existing business relationship.” This terms basically means that if you have made an inquiry to, or conducted business with, an entity they are allowed to place solicitation calls to you for a period of time after your interaction. In most circumstances, however, if you receive a call from an entity like this, they have to abide your request to be placed on their do-not-call list going forward.
What If I Feel Like My Rights Were Violated Under the TCPA?
If you feel like your rights have been violated, you have two options under the law. First, you can file a complaint with the FCC. Second, you have the option to file a lawsuit.
If you take the second option, your possible remedies at law include obtaining an injunction, actual damages or $500 per violation of the law (whichever is greater) or both an injunction and damages. Importantly, if the violation is considered to be “willful and knowing,” the amount per violation can be increased to $1,500 by the court. For example, if you receive 20 calls from the same solicitor (unfortunately this happens all the time) after they have been told not to call and the court determines their behavior was willful and knowing, they could face $30,000 in penalties. If a lawsuit is necessary, it would either be filed in Federal District Court either where the Defendant telemarketer does business or in the district where the violation happened.
If you are a victim of potential violations of the TCPA please call the BLC Law Center now at (800) 551-7922 to set up a free initial consultation with our experienced and knowledgeable staff.