Federal consumer protection laws are intended to protect consumers from the unscrupulous practices of business enterprises. An example of such a law is the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Congress enacted the TCPA in 1991 as a response to the growth of unregulated and harassing telemarketing calls and faxes.
Unwanted phone calls are the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) top consumer complaint. These calls include illegal and spoofed robocalls where consumers’ phone numbers are being spoofed or whose calls are being mistakenly blocked or labeled as a possible scam call by a robocall blocking app or service.
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), helps consumers prevent and stop unwanted communications to wireless numbers, emergency numbers, and patient rooms at health care facilities. Note that there are distinct regulations for wireless and landline phones. The TCPA prohibits calls or texts to cell phones without the prior express consent of the party called.
Included in the TCPA’s protections are the following unwanted communications:
- telephone calls;
- text messages;
- auto-dialed or prerecorded calls; and
- text messages
Exempt from the TCPA are:
- calls not made for a commercial purpose;
- calls made on behalf of tax-exempt nonprofit organizations;
- calls that do not include an unsolicited advertisement, even if made for a commercial purpose.
- calls from a financial institution about the security of the subscriber’s account;
- calls from health care providers relating to appointments, test results, medication status, etc.;
- calls from the Federal Government;
- calls from utilities regarding service issues, emergencies, outages, etc.; and
- calls from schools regarding weather closures, fire, health risks, threats, and unexcused absences and, with express consent, other school activities.
Express consent is required for persons to receive certain types of calls, and consumers have the right to inform callers to cease and desist. For each unwanted call that constitutes a violation of the TCPA, a consumer plaintiff may recover between $500 and $1,500 in damages. Theron Morrison has extensive experience suing creditors that engage in illegal conduct and violate federal and state law.
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