THE TCPA: Consumer Protection Against Robocalls
The Federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act, also known as the TCPA, was passed by Congress in response to an increasing number of consumer complaints about telemarketers and debt collector phone calls.
The primary purpose of the TCPA is to reduce the number of nuisance calls. But also, and perhaps more importantly, it works to protect the consumer's right to privacy.
What Constitutes a Violation of the TCPA?
The following practices are prohibited by the TCPA.
Calls to Cellphones
The TCPA prohibits use of automated calls, pre-recorded messages and text messages to cell telephones. The law applies to all cell phones whether used for business or personal use. In essence, a telemarketer or debt collector violates the law every time it makes an automated "robo" call, pre-recorded message, or text message to a consumer's cell phone, unless the consumer previously gave the telemarketer or debt collector permission to call. In cases where consent has been previously given, the consumer can revoke that consent by notifying the telemarketer or debt collector to stop calling the cellphone.
Calls to Residential Phone Lines
The TCPA prohibits pre-recorded messages for calls made to residential telephone lines. It only applies to solicitations from telemarketers/sellers with whom the consumer does not have an "established business relationship." If the consumer has done business with a telemarketer/seller within the last 18 months, or made inquiry within the last three months, then it is presumed under the TCPA that the consumer has an established business relationship with that telemarketer/seller.
Telemarketing Calls to Consumers on the Do Not Call Registry
The TCPA prohibits any solicitation calls to those consumers whose telephone numbers are registered on the do not call list. Consumers can place both their cell phone and residential lines on the do not call registry.
Under the TCPA, telemarketers and debt collectors using an auto dialer are also forbidden from other practices, including calling the consumer before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m. The caller must additionally, during any call, provide his or her name, the name of the business entity on whose behalf the call is being made, and a telephone number or address at which the person or entity can be reached.
Documenting Evidence of TCPA Violations
Consumers who are receiving calls in violation of the TCPA can take a few steps to document the violations.
Obtain and save all phone records and highlight incoming calls from debt collectors and telemarketers.
Make a written record of the calls you are receiving, specifically, recording the date of the call, time of the call, caller's identity, and a summary of any conversations held with the caller.
Save all voice messages.
If you have revoked your consent to receive calls, keep a copy of the letter.
Damages for Violations of the TCPA
Consumers who receive telemarketing calls, unsolicited faxes, pre-recorded and/or automated calls to their cellphones or residential landlines, may file a lawsuit against the telemarketer or debt collector for the violation of the TCPA.
Talk to Us
If you have further questions about the TCPA or want to learn more about filing a lawsuit against a telemarketer or debt collector for a violation of the TCPA, talk to a consumer protection lawyer here.