The Telephone Consumer Protection Act, also known as the TCPA is a federal statute that was passed in 1991, and is designed to protect consumers from various types of telephone solicitations. Congress gave the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) broad regulatory authority to enforce the provisions of the TCPA.
The act generally prohibits certain types of marketing using:
automatic dialing systems without meeting the very strict requirements of the TCPA:
artificial or prerecorded voice messages without prior written consent,
text messages of unsolicited advertisements, and
fax machines to send unsolicited advertisements without prior written consent.
It is important to note that not all such marketing using these devises is prohibited, and a consumer law attorney will need to analyze the facts of each particular case to find out if there is indeed a violation.
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act is also the act that created the “Do Not Call List.” The TCPA puts guidelines on the telemarketer as to when it is allowed to call a potential customer. The business is only permitted to call between 8:00AM and 9:00PM. Further, if the consumer decided he or she no longer desires calls from the telemarketer, he or she can demand the telemarketer quit calling. The telemarketer must keep the consumer’s name on the list indefinitely, and is not permitted to call that individual in the future.
There are hefty civil statutory damages for violations of the TCPA. The TCPA itself allows for $500 per violation and in some cases, this amount may be tripled to $1500.00. These damages can be extensive especially considered in light of how the TCPA is typically violated by a telemarketer. For example, a telemarketer might be violating the prohibition regarding leaving prerecorded voice messages. This telemarketer might do so twenty-five times before the consumer finally gets fed up with the conduct and calls to remedy the situation. As stated above, the TCPA permits damages for each violation, so the telemarketer might be liable for $500 X 25, or possibly even $1500 X 25 in addition to attorney fees and any actual or punitive damages that might be available. It is worth pursuing your rights if you believe a telemarketer has violated the TCPA. You should call a consumer law attorney and most such attorneys will analyze your case without charging you an upfront consultation fee. Furthermore, most consumer law attorneys will take these cases on a contingency fee basis so the consumer does not have to come up with attorney fees at the beginning of a case. Obviously, all attorneys work in different ways, so it is advisable to find out how much a consumer law attorney charges for a case such as this prior to retaining his or her services.