Telephone Consumer Protection Act

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) regulates telemarketing calls, auto-dialed calls, prerecorded calls, text messages, and unsolicited faxes. It also is the authority to create the National Do-Not-Call List. The Federal Communications Commission ("FCC") is empowered to issue rules and regulations implementing the TCPA.

Beginning October 16, 2013, prior express written consent was required for all autodialed calls, pre-recorded calls or texts sent or made to a wireless number and pre-recorded calls made to wired numbers for advertising or telemarketing purposes. The prior business relationship exemption was eliminated.

Exceptions include calls:

  • that are manually dialed and do not contain a pre-recorded message;
  • made for emergency purposes;
  • not made for a commercial purpose;
  • made for a commercial purpose but does not include or introduce an advertisement or constitute telemarketing;
  • made by or on behalf of a tax-exempt nonprofit organization; or
  • that delivers a "health care" message made by, or on behalf of, a "covered entity" or its "business associate," as those terms are defined in the HIPAA Privacy Rule.

Prohibited Actions Under The TCPA

The most common violations of the TCPA involve autodialing, robocalls, and unsolicited text messages. Autodialers are just that: equipment or computer programs that automatically dial phone numbers. Even if a live person is on the other end of the call, it is still against the law for companies to use an autodialer. Some of the telltale signs that an autodialer is being used include hangups after you have answered the call or a long period of silence before the other person on the line speaks.

Robocalls refer to calls that are greeted with a prerecorded message. In every case, regardless of whether you talk to a person or whether a message is left on your phone, telemarketers must leave you with the option to opt out of future phone calls. This option must be given at the beginning of the call, and toll-free call back numbers are required to be left on any message to allow consumers to add their number to a do-not-call list. Robocallers are also required under law to provide their identity, phone numbers and addresses. Failure to do any of these things likely constitutes a TCPA violation. Unsolicited or harassing text messages include those where the recipient has not authorized or consented to receive text messages from the sender.

Representing Consumers In Telephone Consumer Protection Act Violations

It seems like telemarketers have an uncanny knack for interrupting you at the most inopportune times. Congress recognized this problem way back in 1991 when it passed the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The TCPA created a national do-not-call registry that consumers can add their names to. Once your name is on this list, businesses and solicitors are prohibited from calling you. Other provisions of the Act include restrictions on when calls may be made and whether automated messages, or robocalls, may be used.

It is pretty clear that many telemarketers have no issue when it comes to violating this law. The attorneys at Shanberg, Stafford & Bartz LLP can help consumers fight back and challenge those perpetrators who deliver harassing phone calls and text messages. The biggest initial step you can take to put an end to these behaviors is to ensure that all of your phone numbers are on the national do-not-call registry. If telemarketers, retailers, mistaken debt collectors and others continue to call after you have been added to the do-not-call list, you may be eligible for compensation of up to $1,500 for each call that was in violation of the TCPA.

If you have received an unwanted phone call or text message that meets the criteria for a TCPA violation, we want to hear from you. We can help explain your rights and let you know whether you may be eligible for financial compensation. Contact us online or call 888-240-3495 to discuss your case.

Contact Our Consumer Law Firm

Our lawyers are dedicated to protecting the rights of consumers and to ensuring that violators are held accountable for their actions. To find out more, contact us online or call 888-240-3495.