Telemarketing and debt collection calls have always been a thorn in the side of consumers. Incessant calls and those that occur in the early morning hours, over dinner, or while at work trying to collect a payment or purchase a product you have expressed no prior interest in are an invasion of privacy and a form of harassment. Since 1991, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) has attempted to limit when and how these calls are made, and companies guilty of TCPA violations are increasingly the focus of lawsuits. As of June 2017, these protections got even stronger, as government agencies seek to address increasing numbers of consumer complaints.
Ruling Strengthens Core Protections of TCPA
Telemarketing and debt collection calls which harass or target unwary, non-consenting consumers are not only a nuisance, but in many cases are illegal. Despite the protections afforded through the TCPA, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) states that the number of complaints they receive regarding these calls has increased dramatically over the past several years. In response, recent rulings have clarified what the TCPA does and does not cover, while strengthening core protections for consumers.
A June 2015 FCC order regarding the TCPA states that along with the rise in the number of complaints the number of TCPA related lawsuits has also increased, by roughly 70 percent. By way of additional protections to help reduce the number of people being harassed, changes in the TCPA include the following:
- Provisions holding telemarketers accountable for automatically generated, randomly dialed numbers;
- Increasing liability for calls made to reassigned cellphone numbers;
- Defining text messages as calls under the TCPA;
- Requiring consent for internet to phone text messaging.
In addition to the above, the order also guarantees the right for consumers to revoke consent for calls at any time and by any means necessary, while clearing the way for carriers or Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) providers to implement call blocking technologies.
Under TCPA rules, companies who commit violations face legal liability, including having to pay damages of as much as $500 to $1,500 per call to impacted consumers. According to a Bloomberg Report, TCPA lawsuits have hit record high settlements in the past few years. Beyond debt collectors and telemarketers, lawsuits have been filed against the following:
- Social networking sites;
- Sports franchises;
- Utility companies;
- Pharmacies and health care facilities;
- Retailers and online service providers.
If you are being targeted with harassing calls by these types of companies, contact Keogh Law, LTD. We can arrange a free consultation with a Chicago consumer protection attorney to discuss whether you might be entitled to compensation.