Unwanted Cell Phone Calls, Texts Banned Under TCPA
By Anne Bucher
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA) protects consumers from unwanted phone calls and text messages. The federal law inflicts a significant penalty on companies who violate these regulations. The penalties are generally between $500 and $1,500 per phone call or text.
Many financial institutions, restaurants and debt collection agencies have been accused of sending unsolicited telemarketing messages in violation of the TCPA. Because these companies often send large numbers of messages, they can rack up significant legal penalties.
Telemarketing Calls Cost Consumers Money
In the United States, many consumers have a cell phone as their only telephone line. Under their cell phone plans, they are often financially responsible for incoming phone calls and text messages. When businesses send unsolicited messages, consumers are frequently on the hook for cell phone charges associated with the calls or texts. Unsolicited telemarketing calls are disruptive and expensive for consumers.
Unsolicited prerecorded phone calls have been named “robocalls.” In 2012, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) updated the TCPA to impose clearer consent requirements. Under the new rules, customers must give written consent to receive calls and messages. The FCC also stressed that companies can no longer make robocalls based on an “established business relationship” with the customer. Many companies rely on their database of past and present customer contact information and send unsolicited texts or prerecorded messages to their customers’ phones.
Companies Argue TCPA Robocall Definitions are Unclear
Some companies have complained that they are being victimized by consumer lawsuits brought under the TCPA. Executives from the American Bankers Association, the American Association of Health Care Administrative Management and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have complained to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), claiming that predictive-dialing technology should be exempt because it allows businesses to contact a large number of customers for legitimate business purposes. They argue that, because these numbers are not random, they should not be considered in the same category as “robocalls,” in which a computer dials random numbers and delivers a recorded message.
According to these business groups, there have been nearly 500 TCPA lawsuits filed this year. This number is almost twice the number of cases that were filed in the same period during 2011. These groups are requesting that the FCC change the definition of autodialing to exclude predictive dialing that companies use to contact customers for a legitimate business purpose. They argue that, under the current TCPA law, companies are being penalized for contacting their customers for non-telemarketing purposes.
File a TCPA Class Action Lawsuit
Thousands of consumers who have received unsolicited telemarketing calls or text messages from businesses have filed TCPA lawsuits, and the number of lawsuits continues to rise. Plaintiffs in these TCPA lawsuits have received millions of dollars. If you have received unsolicited phone calls or text messages, visit the Text Message Spam, Cell Phone Call TCPA Class Action Lawsuit Settlement Investigation to learn more about your legal rights. You may be eligible to join a TCPA class action lawsuit and receive generous compensation for each unsolicited communication you received.
Updated May 10th, 2013
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