Illegal Robocalls and Telemarketing

On the show Last Week Tonight, John Oliver once said that robocalls are so annoying that “hatred of them may be the only thing that everyone in America agrees on right now.” In fact, they are the #1 source of complaints to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Millions of Americans receive unwanted robocalls, voice mails, text messages, and telemarketing messages—sometimes dozens of times a day. But there are ways to fight back against these annoying robocalls.

Overview:

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) provides consumers with a tool to combat these telemarketers and robocallers. Among many other things, the TCPA prohibits the following acts:

  • Using an “artificial or prerecorded voice” to place calls to your cell phone without your consent.
  • Calling you before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m.
  • If you are registered on the National Do-Not-Call Registry (www.donotcall.gov), delivering telemarketing calls to your residential telephone without your written consent.
  • Delivering telemarketing messages without providing the caller’s name, the business name, and the telephone number or address of that business.

You may be awarded $500 per violation of the TCPA—or more—in a successful case.

For most violations of the TCPA, if you successfully prove your claims, you are entitled to $500 per violation of the law. That often means $500 per call, text, or voicemail, and this number can even be tripled if you are able to prove that the caller willfully and knowingly violated the law.

Some robocalls can even violate multiple parts of the TCPA at the same time, entitling you to an even greater award if you are successful.

Some types of robocalls do not qualify for TCPA protections.

Some categories of robocalls are either exempt from the TCPA, or are very difficult to effectively stop with the TCPA. For example, it is usually impossible to bring claims involving the following categories of calls:

  • Calls intended for you based on a prior or ongoing business relationship.
  • Calls for medical alerts or medical care, unless those calls are for a wrong number and you have already told the caller that it is calling a wrong number.
  • Scam calls (such as calls pretending to be the IRS, callers seeking your social security number, or fake Medicare or car warranty calls).
  • Calls in which a live human being calls you and speaks to you, without the use of an artificial or prerecorded voice, unless the calls are for telemarketing purposes.

Some states have additional protections on top of those offered by the TCPA.

In addition to the TCPA, some states have additional protections for consumers against other types of annoying robocalls. For example, the Florida Telemarketing Act and the Florida Do Not Call Act forbid the use of additional types of autodialers than the TCPA, and also awards up to $500 per violation to a successful plaintiff. Oklahoma also recently passed the Telephone Solicitation Act of 2022, which similarly prohibits the use of autodialers for sales calls in a variety of circumstances.

As a result, even if the robocalls you receive may not violate the TCPA, it is possible that they violate other state laws. If you would like to learn more, or believe that you are a victim of illegal robocalls, please email info@pkglegal.com, or call (561) 726-8444 to speak to a PKG attorney.