Is Robocalling Illegal?
Is Robocalling Illegal?
Morgan & Morgan is handling lawsuits on behalf of consumers who received unwanted calls from debt collectors, banks and other companies on their cell phones. Under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) individuals must provide express consent to receive certain types of calls and have the right to tell these companies, including debt collectors, to stop calling. For each unwanted call, a consumer may be able to collect between $500 and $1,500.
If you received unwanted calls to your cell phone, our attorneys may be able to help you file a claim for compensation. We assist people who are wrongly contacted by a company looking for a different person, as well as those who were contacted after requesting that a company stop calling. If you have questions about your rights under the TCPA, contact us today by filling out our free, no-obligation case review form.
What Is a Robocall?
Robocalls include automated phone calls made using autodialers, as well as those that contain pre-recorded messages. This means that even if you receive a phone call from a live person, the call is still considered a robocall if it is made using an autodialer.
What Is an Autodialer?
The law specifically prohibits companies from using autodialers to call people. An autodialer is any type of equipment or computer software that dials phone numbers without human intervention. Even if a live person is on the other end of an unwanted call you receive, it is possible that the call was made using an autodialer. If you pick up the phone and are greeted by a pre-recorded message, the call was almost certainly made using an autodialer. In addition, calls made using autodialers frequently result in hang-ups or lengthy periods of “dead air” before a live person comes on the line.
I Receive Robocalls on My Cell Phone. Is This Legal?
This will depend on how the call was made. The TCPA, enforced by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), sets strict requirements for companies making robocalls to help prevent consumers from receiving unwanted prerecorded or autodialed phone calls. It is illegal if the unwanted phone calls fail to meet the following requirements.
Express Written Consent
Prior to placing robocalls and using automated dialers, telemarketers must receive consumers’ written or electronic signatures, known as express written consent. The FCC’s definition of express written consent under the TCPA matches that of the E-SIGN Act which defines an electronic signature as “an electronic sound, symbol, or process attached or logically associated with a contract or other record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record.” This means that consent can be given in various ways including checking a consent box on an online form.
Companies, however, must clearly state that customers consent to receiving robocalls when submitting their phone numbers. In addition, companies are not allowed to require consent as a prerequisite to purchasing goods or services and are prohibited from collecting cell phone numbers through unrelated transactions, incoming phone calls or third-party contracts.
An Option to “Opt Out”
Regardless of whether a telemarketer calls or leaves a voice message, he or she must provide an option for the recipient to opt-out of the calls. When answering a call, this option must be given at the beginning of the message, and when leaving voice messages, telemarketers must provide toll-free call-back numbers so that recipients can add their phone numbers to a do-not-call list.
Companies placing robocalls must provide recipients with various types of information.
At the beginning of a message, a caller must state:
- His or her identity
- The identity of the business on whose behalf he or she is making the call
During or after the message, the caller must provide:
- The address of the business responsible for placing the call
- The phone number of that business
Who Can I Sue?
Consumers may be able to file lawsuits against the following types of institutions for placing robocalls:
- Debt collectors
- Student loan companies
- Credit card companies
- Check cashing companies
- Mortgage companies
- Finance companies
- Companies making calls claiming to inform people that they won a sweepstakes, a free cruise, etc.
Our attorneys specifically want to hear from consumers who received robocalls from any of the following companies:
- ADT Security
- All American Medical Supply II, Inc.
- Ally Financial
- American Collection Services
- Asset Acceptance
- Bank of America
- Capital One
- Check Mart
- Collection Information Bureau
- Commonwealth Financial Systems
- Dependable Diabetic Supply, LLC
- Dish Network
- Drive Time
- E Title Loans
- Enhanced Recovery Company
- GC Services
- GE Money/GENPAC
- GE Retail Capital Bank
- Gila, LLC
- Global Healthcare Management LLC
- Green Tree
- Heritage Diabetic Supply
- IC Systems
- iYogi, Inc.
- Mark One
- Midland Credit Management
- National Credit Adjustments
- Ocwen Financial
- One Source Medical Supply, LLC
- P&B Capital
- Palisades Collection
- Pendrick Capital Partners
- Pinnacle Security LLC
- Portfolio Recovery Associates
- Resurgent Capital
- Sallie Mae
- Saracare LLC
- Spectrum Diabetic Supply
- US Fast Cash
- U.S. Healthcare Supply LLC
- Verizon Wireless
- Wells Fargo
Example of TCPA Violation: Wrong Number
Under the TCPA, companies must abide by do-not-call requests and consumers may revoke their permission to receive robocalls at any time. This also applies to debt collectors – who must stop calling upon request even if the consumer is still indebted to the company – and any company that has been told that it has the wrong number.
For example, in the recent lawsuit of Osorio v. State Farm Bank, the plaintiff alleges that a debt collection company placed more than 300 unwanted calls to his cell phone, even after he told the debt collector to stop calling him. In the lawsuit, Osorio claims that his housemate, who is a State Farm insurance credit card holder, provided the company with his phone number as her emergency contact, but when she fell behind on her payments the company sought the money by contacting the plaintiff. A panel of judges reviewing the case held that State Farm violated the TCPA when it continued to call Osorio, despite the fact that his housemate owed the company money. Read more about the importance of this ruling here.
Can I Sue Telemarketers?
Yes. Telemarketers must follow the same guidelines as debt collectors, banks, credit card agencies and any other company making robocalls. If they violate the law, consumers may be able to seek compensation for each violation through a lawsuit. The TCPA allows consumers to seek $500 per illegal robocall and $1,500 per illegal robocall that was made willfully.
If you’ve been receiving unwanted calls on your cell phone, contact us today for a free case evaluation. We may be able to help stop the phone calls and recover compensation on your behalf through an individual or class action lawsuit.