Telephone Consumers Protection Act: the Basics
If you’ve ever picked up a ringing phone only to hear a prerecorded voice crow about a sales offer that you simply can’t refuse, you’ve experienced the annoyance that led Congress to pass the Telephone Consumers Protection Act and insist upon Telephone Consumers Protection Act compliance. Although the Telephone Consumers Protection Act was enacted in 1991, it hasn’t put an end to direct marketers’ telemarketing calls that invade your privacy and exasperate you. Much of the time, their TCPA compliance is abysmal. Thankfully, Congress gave the Federal Communications Commission broad authority to create and implement TCPA compliance rules.
Here’s what you need to know about TCPA compliance:
- The Telephone Consumers Protection Act applies to telemarketing calls and to automated dialing systems or calls with an artificial or prerecorded voice (“robocalls”)
- For Telephone Consumers Protection Act compliance, telemarketers must provide you with their names, the name of the businesses on whose behalf they’re making the calls, and the telephone numbers or addresses of those businesses
- Calls can’t be made before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m. in your time zone
You can make a do-not-call request directly to the telemarketer and they must comply with it for five years; after five years, you need to repeat your request
- You can register your home and cell phone numbers with the National Do-Not-Call Registry (www.donotcall.gov); telemarketers have 31 days to remove you from their call sheets
- Tax-exempt non-profit organizations, political campaigns, and healthcare-related calls covered under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act are not bound by the TCPA, which means they’re exempt from TCPA compliance
- For TCPA compliance, calls and text messages generated from autodialers and predictive dialers cannot be made to cell phones, pagers, or any service where you are charged for the call; debt collection agencies often use predictive dialers and call consumers’ cell phones, which is a violation of the TCPA if they do not first obtain written consent
- Calls using artificial or prerecorded voice messages (“robocalls”) cannot be made to home phone numbers, except if you’ve given your consent to be called, if the calls are non-commercial in nature, if they’re from nonprofit organizations, if they’re emergency calls, or if they’re not telephone solicitations
- In order to be in TCPA compliance, unsolicited advertisements can’t be sent to home or business fax machines unless you’ve given the business permission, you have an existing business relationship with the business, you’ve provided the business with your fax number, or you publish your fax number in a directory or on a website
- All unsolicited faxes must include a toll-free number and fax number, email address, or web URL so you can opt out of receiving the company’s faxes 24-7-365; you must be taken off their fax distribution list within 30 days
- If a telemarketer, debt collector, or faxer violates the law or regulations by not engaging in TCPA compliance, you can take them to court; if you win, you can be awarded actual damages or $500 per violation – and triple that amount if your attorney can prove that the company willfully and knowingly violated the law
If you or someone you know is having problems with cell phone robocalls, complete our online form or call (855) 301-2100. Lemberg Law’s legal team will evaluate your case at no cost to you, and will help you get the justice you deserve.