Is it just me or does it seem like calls to your cell phone are exploding in volume? I am probably getting five or more unsolicited and unwelcome calls each day trying to sell me items and services that I do not need nor do I want! I feel like I am under assault! Given the fact I know the law in this area, I thought I would share some ways we can help when you are getting this same type of telephone harassment.
This blog post will discuss your rights regarding unsolicited and harassing phone calls, facsimiles, and SMS text messages from debt collectors and telemarketers.
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991, 42 U.S.C. § 227 (TCPA) governs the conduct of telemarketers and often debt collectors. The TCPA restricts the use of automatic telephone dialing systems (also known as “auto-dialers” or “predictive dialers”), artificial or prerecorded voice messages, SMS text messages, as well as the use of fax machines to send unsolicited advertisements. A consumer is unlikely to know whether a call to his or her cellular telephone was initiated using an auto dialer – they often will sound like any other phone call. A call initiated using an auto dialer may in fact have a live person on the other end.
However, keep this in mind: in order for a debt collector or telemarketer to maintain a volume operation, they must make thousands of telephone calls each day – so, if you are getting calls from a debt collector or telemarketer on your cellular telephone, there is a very good chance that they are violating the TCPA. In accordance with the TCPA, consumers are entitled to collect damages ranging from $500 to $1,500 for each unlawful call, fax, or text message. Remember to always save your voicemails and have them reviewed by a consumer attorney for potential violations of the TCPA (and other federal laws).
Examples of common TCPA violations
Unless a consumer has previously given express consent, it is generally a violation of the TCPA for a business to engage in any of the following conduct:
- Debt collector and/or telemarketing calls made to your cellular telephone, which were initiated by the use of an auto dialer.
- Debt collector and/or telemarketing calls made to your cellular telephone, which were initiated by an artificial voice or a prerecorded message.
- Sending unwanted fax messages, which solicit or promote a business (i.e. junk faxes).
- Sending unwanted business advertisements via text messages to your cellular telephone.
Tips to Deal with TCPA Violations
Here are some tips to help us help you in dealing with these violations under the TCPA
- Answer the phone as much as possible when you get these types of calls. Please then keep a copy of all the phone bills you receive as this will allow the incoming call from the robocaller to appear on your phone bill.
- Google and research whoever is calling you to try to get as much information as possible. If you do a Google search that should take you to various complaint sites in which you can try to find out who the caller is. Take screen shots and digital photos of the specific caller id showing the date, time and phone number of the phone call.
- Keep all of the voice messages and unsolicited text messages or Junk Faxes that you receive and, if you can, digitize and save them to your computer so you have them. Also, do not delete them from your cell phone.
- As stated above, keep phone bills and records and make a note of the incoming calls from the callers who are violating this law. Keep a log of the date of the call, time of the call, caller’s identity and a brief description of what the caller said to you and what you said to the caller.
Our lawyers handle cases under the TCPA. If you are receiving unsolicited and unwanted calls and text messages to your cell phone, please contact our office nearest to you and set up a free consultation with one of our licensed attorneys to see how we can help you.
Ron Sykstus is a Managing Partner of several of the Bond & Botes Law Offices throughout Alabama. He holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Arizona, Tucson, and a Juris Doctorate from the Northern Illinois University College of Law. Ron has served in numerous positions throughout the U.S. Army and now utilizes his expertise in the areas of VA issues, security clearances, military law, and bankruptcy to assist his clients when they need it most. Read his full bio here.