March 10, 2020

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Enhanced Federal Protections Against Robocalls Under the TCPA

Telemarketers can be a frustrating interruption at dinner time, but even worse are “robocalls” that text or call repeatedly. Debt collectors, telemarketers, and other organizations might be in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) for robocalls and other harassing or what are considered nuisance calls. The law also works to protect the consumer’s rights to privacy. If you have been the target of robocalls or other unwanted calls to your home or cell phone, you may be entitled to file a legal claim.

What are robocalls?

A robocall is an automated call dialed by a computer. A robocall may also refer to a pre-recorded voice message used by the caller when contacting a consumer.

What calls are restricted by the TCPA?

Telemarketers and debt collectors are restricted from using automated dialing and pre-recorded voice messaging that reaches a consumer by cellphone, residential phone, text message, or fax machine.

What is prohibited by the TCPA?

The TCPA prohibits the use of any automated calls, pre-recorded voice messages, and automated text messaging to cell phones. This applies whether the phone is for personal or business use. A telemarketer or debt collector is in violation every time a robocall is made.

What if I gave consent?

Even if you have intentionally or unintentionally given prior consent to a telemarketer or debt collector, you have the right to revoke your consent by notifying the caller to stop calling a cellphone or your residential line. The TCPA prohibits any solicitations to consumers whose numbers are on the do not call list. You can add your home phone and your cell phone to this directory.

Is there a difference when calling a cell phone or a home phone?

Yes, the TCPA offers more protection against robocalls via cellphone. Pre-recorded calls are prohibited to residential phone lines and only applies to solicitations where there is no established business relationship. For example, you have a relationship with your internet or cell phone provider, so it is presumed under the TCPA that you have an established business relationship.

How do I document TCPA violations?

If you believe a telemarketing company or debt collector is in violation of the TCPA, it is important to begin documenting calls and texts. You should save your phone records and highlight the incoming calls, make a record of the calls you are receiving, including date and time, and a summary of the conversations, save any voice messages, and revoke consent and document this revocation.

What compensation am I entitled to?

If you have been a target of nuisance calls, cell phone robocalls, or an illegal telemarketing campaign, you may be entitled to significant compensation under the TCPA. Our lawyers can investigate your case and file a lawsuit against the debt collectors or telemarketers for any violations. Consumers are entitled to recover up to $500 for EVERY violation of the do not call registry, up to $500 for EVERY call in violation of the TCPA, and up to $1,500 for every phone call that demonstrates a knowing and willful violation of the TCPA.

The Pallone-Thunbe Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act (TRACED)

Under new legislation, the FCC has additional authority to crack down on civil penalties, imposing up to $10,000 per call for intentional violations. It also increases the period that the FCC can take action for up to four years after the offense. For more information about the TCPA or the newly enacted TRACED law and how it impacts consumers in Minnesota, please contact our firm.

Our consumer rights attorneys at Wanta Thome PLC are currently investigating TCPA cases involving telemarketers, robocalls, and debt collector violations. For more information about your rights and potential compensation, please contact us.

See the following articles for information about cases, interviews and news on Wanta Thome PLC and the TCPA.