What is the TCPA?
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act, passed in 1991, protects consumers from unwanted, unsolicited telemarketing and collection calls. If you receive unwanted communications that violate the TCPA, you may be entitled to significant monetary compensation – $500 to $1,500 per violation.
TCPA Consumer Information
- Examples of TCPA Violations
- Documenting TCPA Violations
- Cellphones and the TCPA
- Autodialers and Robocalls
- The National Do-Not-Call Registry
- History of the TCPA
- Taking Legal Action Under the TCPA
Examples of TCPA Violations
The TCPA restricts both telemarketers and debt collectors in their use of automated dialing and pre-recorded voice messages in regard to residential phone lines, cellphones, text messages, and unsolicited faxes.
TCPA violations include:
- Pre-recorded messages made to residential telephone lines without express prior consent.
- Making automated calls and pre-recorded messages without express prior consent or an established business relationship.
- Sending unsolicited text messages and faxes to consumers without express prior consent or an established business relationship.
- Telemarketing calls made to consumers listed on the National Do-Not-Call Registry.
- Making calls to consumers before 8:00 am or after 9:00 pm without prior consent.
- Failure to include an option for consumers to 'opt out' of future communications.
Under the TCPA, callers are also required to identify who they are, the name of the business and/or entity on whose behalf they are calling, and a phone number and address at which that business or entity may be contacted.
Documenting TCPA Violations
If you receive calls that you believe are in violation of the TCPA, it is important to document your experiences. Keep a copy of all phone records, taking note of calls from telemarketers and debt collectors. Track the date and time of each call, noting the caller's name and a summary of the conversation.
Be sure to save all voice message. If you sent a letter asking the marketer to cease all calls, maintain a copy of the letter for your records. If you have a return receipt, hold on to it.
Cellphones and the TCPA
Under the TCPA, marketers and collectors are prohibited from making automated calls, as well as sending pre-recorded messages and text messages, to cellphones without prior express written consent. This applies to all cellphones, including those used for personal and commercial purposes.
If the consumer has previously granted express prior consent and wishes to revoke consent, they can do so by notifying the telemarketer or collector to stop calls to their cellphone.
Autodialers and Robocalls
'Robocalls' are calls made using automated-dialing systems (or autodialers), using pre-recorded voice messages to solicit consumers. Calls made using an autodialer are still considered robocalls, even if a live person is on the other end of the line.
The National Do-Not-Call Registry
The National Do-Not-Call Registry (also referred to as the National Do-Not-Call List) provides consumers with the option to opt-out of telemarketing calls.
After a number has been listed on the registry for 31 days, telemarketers should stop calling. Keep in mind, the Do-Not-Call List does not stop all communications; you may still receive calls from organizations you've already done business with, have granted written permission to, or from organizations that are non-commercial and/or tax-exempt.
Adding your home phone and/or cellphone number to the National Do-Not-Call Registry is completely free for both mobile and home phone numbers.
History of the TCPA
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA - 47 U.S. Code § 227) was a federal response to the growing number of consumer complaints regarding unwanted telephone marketing calls and debt collection calls. It was written as an amendment to the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. § 151), the very act that formed the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
In 1991, Congress enacted the TCPA, restricting telephone marketing calls and the use of automatic-dialing systems (autodialers) and pre-recorded voice messages. The TCPA applies to common carriers and other marketers.
The next year, in 1992, rules were adopted to implement the TCPA, such as the requirement for entities who practice telemarketing to create company-specific 'do-not-call' lists.
In 2003, the FCC, together with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), established the National Do-Not-Call Registry, leading to another revision of the TCPA. The Do-Not-Call Registry applies to all telemarketers (excluding certain non-profit organizations), covering both interstate and intrastate calls. These changes also placed additional restrictions on the use of autodialers and the requirements for transmitting Caller ID information.
In 2012, the TCPA was revised once again. Telemarketers are now required to:
- Obtain 'prior express written consent' from consumers before 'robocalling' them.
- No longer use an 'established business relationship' as a way to avoid obtaining consent from consumers when calling their home phones.
- Provide an automated, interactive 'opt-out' mechanism during each and every robocall, allowing consumers to immediately tell the marketer to cease calling.
Taking Legal Action Under the TCPA
If you believe your TCPA rights have been violated, it is important to retain a qualified consumer attorney to review your case.
Violations of the TCPA and your rights may entitle you to monetary compensation – $500 to $1,500 per violation.
Possible outcomes include:
- Up to $500 for violations of the National Do-Not-Call Registry.
- Up to $500 for each telephone call found in violation of the TCPA.
- Up to $1,500 for each phone call if it can be proven that the TCPA was both knowingly and willfully violated.
Our attorneys frequently handle TCPA violation cases for consumers throughout the United States. Starting with your FREE case review, we will evaluate your claim and determine whether it qualifies under the TCPA. If your claim qualifies, we will work to pursue any legal damages to which you are entitled.