Telephone Consumer Protection Act: Stop Unwanted Phone Calls

by Gary on August 27, 2012

Tired of getting unwanted pre-recorded calls on your cell phone and home phone? What about unwanted text messages?

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) provides protection against many types of unwanted calls.

Cell Phone Calls

The TCPA prohibits any automated dialing system or any artificial or pre-recorded voice messages to cell phones. This applies to marketing calls, debt collection calls, or any other purpose for the call. The law applies to all cell phones, regardless of whether they are for business use or personal use. The law also applies to any unsolicited text message.

While such calls and texts are illegal, an exception exists if you have given consent to be called or texted on your cell phone. When you apply for credit, for example, and give your cell phone number as your main phone number, you have just consented to receive calls on your cell phone from the creditor and any debt collector working for that creditor. But, if you never gave your cell phone number to the creditor, but instead just called in on the cell phone and they captured your number from caller ID, that is not express consent for future robocalls.

Calls to Former Owner of Cell Phone Number?

“Wrong number” calls can also violate the TCPA. Whenever someone gives up a cell phone, the cell provider can recycle that phone number and re-issue it to a new customer. So, what happens when a person gets tired of all the debt collector calls on her cell phone and decides to just ditch the number and get a new one? The old number soon enough gets reissued to a complete stranger. Then, the stranger starts getting robocalls and collection calls for the former owner of the phone. Obviously, the new owner of the phone number has never given consent to the debt collector to call the new owner. The new owner should tell the caller that this is no longer the phone number for whomever they are trying to reach and tell the caller to stop calling the cell phone. If that does not put a stop to the calls, legal action may be necessary.

TCPA Damages?

The TCPA provides a minimum $500 penalty per violation for illegal calls to cell phones. Each call or text is a violation. The penalty can be tripled up to $1,500 per violation if the violations are found to be willful. A plaintiff can also get a court order stopping the caller from future violations of the TCPA.

More Resources

The Federal Communications Commission maintains a guide for unwanted telephone marketing calls. In addition to the cell phone calls discussed above, the FCC guide also explains your right to be placed on federal, state, and company specific “Do not call” lists, as well as what happens when the law is violated.

If you are looking for a TCPA lawyer to help you put a stop to these unwanted calls, contact the Dallas bankruptcy attorneys at Armstrong Kellett Bartholow P.C. for a consultation regarding your rights.

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