Your cell phone rings, you look over and see the dreaded “unknown caller” show up on caller ID. Thanks to a recently written opinion, those phone calls to your cellphone will no longer be allowed at all. In addition, it enables the go ahead to pursue class action lawsuits against those companies who break the law.
Back in 1991, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act was put into place (TCPA). The TCPA made it illegal for people to receive robo calls to their landline phone numbers without prior consent. However, as a stipulation, the FCC regulations allow for tax-exempt organizations such as political surveys, etc. to continue making those prerecorded calls. In 1991, the use of cell phones was slim to none. According to InfoPlease.com (http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0933563.html) there were only 7,557,148 cell phone subscribers in 1991 opposed to the current approximately 262 Million users. Needless to say, the call to apply this law to cell phones wasn’t needed in 1991 the way it has been needed today.
Currently, there is a huge population of Americans who no longer have a landline home phone, and primarily use their cell phones. In the recently handed down opinion, the FCC exemptions do not apply, but the rules for a landline do apply for a cell phone.
This all was brought to light thanks to the more than one million people who received telephone calls from people claiming to be Political Opinion of America, in an attempt to show their non-exempt status. During these calls, people were offered a free cruise. They would only have to pay for the taxes and port fees and gratuity. However, if they wanted an upgraded cruise experience, they simply needed to tour a timeshare facility. After listening to the recorded calls, it is evident that this had nothing to do with Political Opinions and everything to do with soliciting new business for a timeshare company.
There are certain factors to the TCPA everyone should be aware of. One of which is that it is prohibited to auto dial, or prerecord non-emergency calls to cell phones unless the caller has prior consent from the person receiving the call. TCPA violations can be a big deal. Violations provide damages of $500 per violation, and if it can be proven that the violation was willful or knowingly done, the damages awarded could be up to 3 times the original amount. Meaning, these calls simply are not allowed to your cell phone without prior consent.
If you believe you have a TCPA violation there are a few things to keep in mind, the burden of proof will lie on you to prove your lack of prior express consent. Other infractions include excessive phone calls (more than four calls a day from the same debt collector), the use of an auto dialer or computer dialer, calling you at work or revealing a debt to a third party are all part of violations.
If you believe you have a TCPA violation, the best thing to do is speak to a competent attorney to discuss your options. If you’d like our help in finding an attorney with a track record of success in these cases, call us at (312) 346-5320 or fill out our form on our website.