Most Americans have been on the receiving end of unwanted telemarketing calls, spam text messages, junk faxes, and telephone scams. These can be incredibly annoying, but what many people don't know is that you don't have to put up with it. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) provides protections against unwanted calls to your cell phone or landline, as well as spam text messages and faxes.
Our consumer law attorneys at Markoff Leinberger have experience helping victims of TCPA violations recover damages and enjoy relief from incessant telemarketing calls. If you have been on the receiving end of robocalls, spam texts, or junk faxes, call us today at 877-905-5161 to schedule your free consultation.
What Is the TCPA?
The TCPA was enacted in 1991 and revised in 2012. Initially, it put restrictions on telemarketers using auto-dial systems and prerecorded messages. In 2012, it was updated to include requirements for consumers to be able to opt out as well as to require written consent from consumers to allow robocalls.
In addition to the TCPA, the National Do-Not-Call Registry was created in 2003 for consumers who wished to reduce the amount of telemarketing calls they received. The Do-Not-Call registry only blocks sales calls, though, so even if you are registered you may still receive political calls, charitable calls, or surveys that do not attempt to sell you anything.
Under the TCPA, you may be entitled to receive:
- $500 per call in violation of the act
- $1500 per call intentionally or maliciously in violation of the act
Devices Protected Under the TCPA
The TCPA offers different levels of protection to consumers depending on device. The devices covered include:
- Cell phones
- Fax machines
Calls to cell phones that use auto-dialers or pre-recorded voices are illegal unless you have given express written consent to receive them. Auto-dialed texts and unsolicited faxes, such as mass spam advertisements, are also illegal without this written consent. If you are contacted by a debt collector or marketing company in this way without having given your consent, they are likely in violation of the TCPA.
While residential landlines do not enjoy the same level of protection as cell phones, they are still protected against solicitations using pre-recorded messages. If you suspect that you have been getting illegal calls on your landline, give us a call.
It is still legal to receive a robocall on your landline if the call is:
- Debt collection
- From a non-profit
- Informational (such as school closing notifications)
- From your own wireless carrier, as long as no charge is made
FCC Regulations Regarding Telemarketing Robocalls
The term "robocall" refers to any call made using an automatic dialer or which uses a prerecorded voice in the introduction. Telemarketing robocalls to cell phones and landlines are regulated by federal and state law.
Regulations placed on telemarketing robocalls include:
- All robocalls to cell phones are prohibited unless you have consented to them in writing
- Sales robocalls to landlines are prohibited unless you have given written consent
- You cannot be required to consent to receiving robocalls in order to buy a product or service
- You must be clearly informed that your consent will result in receiving future prerecorded messages by the seller, and you can withdraw your consent at any time
- All robocalls must include an opt-out feature
- If a consumer chooses to opt out, their number must be placed on a future do not call list
- If a robocall leaves a voicemail, a toll-free opt out number must be included
- Telemarketing calls may only be made between 8am and 9pm local time
If you receive calls in violation of any of the above, you may be entitled to compensation. Call Markoff Leinberger for a free, no-obligation consultation if you think that you've been contacted by a telemarketer or debt collection agency in violation of the TCPA.
What To Do If You Suspect Your TCPA Rights Are Being Violated
If you have been the unwilling recipient of telemarketing calls, texts, or faxes, there are some steps you can follow to build a stronger case.
First, you should try to get as much information as possible. Telemarketers often introduce themselves with generic names like "customer service department," so you should try to find out who they are calling on behalf of. You may have to talk to several people before you can get an official name, address, and phone number.
You should also keep a record of every call you receive, even if it's a fake number. Don't delete the calls from your phone log, and don't delete any voicemails you receive. If you are receiving texts, do not respond to them, report them to your phone company, and don't delete them.
Remember that you should never give out personal information, such as your social security number or credit card number, over the phone to an unknown caller.
Finally, don't forget to call the consumer law attorneys at Markoff Leinberger. We have extensive experience helping victims of illegal calls and texts under the TCPA. You could be entitled to up to $1500 per call or text if the telemarketer or debt collector is found to be in violation of the TCPA.
Schedule Your Free Consultation
If you have been harassed by telemarketers or debt collectors, don't hesitate to contact Markoff Leinberger today at 877-905-5161 to schedule your free consultation. We serve clients in Chicago and nationwide.