Nothing is more annoying than seemingly endless telemarketing calls. Those so-called robocalls come morning, noon and night. When you are sitting down for dinner or watching the big game. And since telemarketers can spoof numbers, they often trick you into answering by using a fake number. The good news is that you can sue a telemarketer.
How do you sue telemarketers? That’s easy, keep reading!
Congress knows just how annoying those calls are. In fact, those calls are illegal. Have you ever said to yourself, “There ought to be a law against telemarketing calls”? Well there is. It’s called the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).
A second consumer law, the Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act (TCFPA), also offers valuable protections.
This may sound like a lot of legal jargon; for purposes of unwanted telemarketing calls know that the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) highly regulate debt collection and telemarketing calls. More importantly, these laws can be enforced by private lawyers and authorize payment of monetary damages to recipients of unwanted calls, faxes, text messages and robocalls.
The TCPA makes unsolicited telemarketing calls, robocalls and even unsolicited text messages illegal. From the very first call or text you may be entitled to compensation. And our telemarketing fraud lawyers can help you collect what you deserve and stop those calls.
Your Rights under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act – TCPA – says that telemarketers and debt collectors can’t contact you without your consent. The law applies too:
- Mobile phones and cell phones
- Text messages
- Fax machines (“junk faxes”)
- Home Phones
- Calls made by robo dialers (robo calls)
Do I Have a Case?
You may have a case if:
- A debt collector calls you between 9 pm and 8 am
- Debt collectors contact your workplace after you tell them to stop
- A debt collector fails to properly identify him or herself (more on that below)
- Telemarketers call you using an artificial voice or recorded message
- Telemarketers use auto dialing equipment to call you (virtually everyone uses this technology)
- Telemarketers make robocalls to you
- Telemarketers contact you if you are on the national do not call registry or if you asked to be placed on the company’s do not call list
- You receive unsolicited text messages
- A telemarketer calls your cell phone without your prior consent
What Are the Penalties for Violating the Law? (How Much is my Case Worth?)
The company making the calls must pay you between $500 and $1500 for each illegal call or text. We have seen cases where mortgage companies have called prospects over 100 times. The awards in these cases can mount quickly but you should maintain a diary or at least screenshot the calls or texts to prove how many times you were contacted.
Both telemarketers and debt collectors should always identify themselves when calling by phone or leaving a message. At the beginning of a call, the caller must give his or her name and the identity of the business on whose behalf the call is being made.
During or at the end of the message, the caller must provide a valid return number and the address of the business making the call. Failure to properly identify makes the call illegal.
What About Charities and Non Profits
Congress never intended the Telephone Consumer Protection Act to apply to charities and nonprofits. If the local girl scout troop or little league is doing a community drive, they need not comply with the TCPA or the national do not call registry. These groups are rarely the problem and almost never use autodialers.
A new and bigger problem has developed in recent years, nonprofit charities that use professional marketing companies to solicit funds. How many people have received a call from someone claiming to raise funds for the local troopers’ association or to send kids to a circus? Those charities may or not be a scam but often, the people raising funds on behalf of those charities are scams.
The government (Federal Trade Commission) calls professional fundraising companies “telefunders” and they are partially regulated. Because the charities they call on behalf of are exempt, the telefunders are also exempt from the national do not call registry but they are still required to properly identify, are prohibited from making false or misleading statements and must provide a prompt keypress or voice activated opt out to prevent future calls.
Who Else is Exempt?
The telemarketing protections of the TCPA exempts banks, credit unions, phone companies, airlines and common carriers. It does not exempt companies that call on behalf of these organizations. That means collection agencies or third party call centers that solicit for otherwise exempt companies or groups must still comply with the law.
Business to business calls are also exempt. (There are special rules for unsolicited faxes, B2B calls involving nondurable office supplies such as ink cartridges and B2B calls soliciting the purchase of cleaning supplies and services.)
Calls from stock brokers and calls peddling investment schemes are regulated but by another agency and with different rules. Calls from insurance salesmen may be subject to state regulations.
Businesses can also call you without consent if the call is for a legitimate fraud, safety or health alert. An example might be a school closing.
The biggest exemption occurs when a consumer consents to calls. Often the consent will be part of sales transaction or signing up for product updates. Even if you consent, however, you always have the right to revoke that consent. (Telemarketers can’t make it hard for you to later revoke your consent, that is also illegal.)
How to Sue a Telemarketer – FAQ’s
What Are Robocalls?
Many of the strongest consumer protections involve companies that make robocalls and use autodialers. First, let’s define a robocall as defined in the law. Like all regulations, there are exceptions to the rules. For our purposes, a robocall is a call made using a computerized autodialer that delivers a pre-recorded message or engages the recipient in a conversation with a computerized voice.
What are the rules for robocalls?
FCC rules require telemarketers and others using robo dialers to obtain your consent before making a prerecorded telemarketing call to your residential phone number or making an autodialed or prerecorded telemarketing call or text to your wireless number. Consent can be in writing, on a form, electronically or by voice. If the consent is by voice, the call must be recorded.
What are the consent requirements for telemarketers calling my landline?
Businesses must have your prior express written consent before making telemarketing robocalls. Under new rules, simply having an existing business relationship with a company isn’t enough.
Are robocalls to wireless phones permissible?
Your written or oral consent is required for ALL autodialed or prerecorded calls or texts made to your wireless number. Once again, an existing business relationship doesn’t mean you gave consent to robocalls.
What other autodialed calls are permitted under FCC robocall rules?
Market research or polling calls to residential wireline numbers are not restricted by FCC rules, nor are calls on behalf of tax-exempt non-profit groups. The rules do require all prerecorded calls, including market research or polling calls, to identify the caller at the beginning of the message and include a contact phone number.
Remember that all robocalls or prerecorded non-emergency calls to wireless phones are prohibited without prior expressed consent regardless of the message’s content.
Can I opt out of autodialed calls?
FCC rules require telemarketers to allow you to immediately opt out of receiving additional telemarketing robocalls during a prerecorded telemarketing call through an automated menu. The opt-out mechanism must be announced at the outset of the message and must be available throughout the duration of the call.
Is Spoofing Illegal?
Spoofing occurs when the caller manipulates the information that appears on your caller ID. Some spoofing scams are the works of criminals simply trying to trick you believing that the call is coming from the IRS or your bank or a fake phone number. These calls are from folks trying to steal your information.
Spoofing violates the Truth in Caller ID Act. There are very narrow exemptions for law enforcement, victims of domestic abuse and physicians. Anyone else who spoofs a number is subject to a penalty of $10,000 per call. Those are penalties collected by the courts and not victims of the spoofing. Because spoofing automatically means the caller is not properly identifying their phone number, a spoofing violation can also give rise to a robocalling violation and damage awards for victims.
How Does the Do Not Call List Work?
The Federal Trade Commission maintains the national Do Not Call List. You can register online or by phone 888-382-1222. (Many states have their own do-not-call lists that offer even more protections.) Signing up is free. Any home or cell phone number is eligible. Once your name is on the list, telemarketers cannot call you unless they have your prior consent.
In our experience, the Do Not Call list has greatly slowed down the number of telemarketing calls but they still remain an epidemic.
Who Are the Biggest Violators? (Who Can I Sue?)
We already know that certain businesses may be exempt from some of the TCPA consumer protection rules. Banks, for example, are exempt from some of the rules but not every rule. (We think they are some of the worst offenders.)
Other offenders include mortgage companies, debt collectors, retail finance companies, student loan servicers and retailers.
Currently we are investigating unwanted phone calls from the following businesses:
- Freedom Mortgage
- Loan Depot (LoanDepot.com)
- The Money Source
- Wells Fargo
- Collection Information Bureau
- Wells Fargo
- Check Mark
- Bank of America
- Lending Tree
Take Action Today – How Do I Sue a Telemarketer?
If you have received unwanted calls or text messages from telemarketers or debt collectors, you may be entitled to substantial financial compensation. In our experience, illegal telemarketers don’t just call once. Chances are that if they are illegally making calls, they won’t just stop with a single call. With violations of between $500 and $1500 per call, even a dozen unwanted calls could mean almost $20,000 in damages.
Ready to learn more? Contact us online for a free case evaluation. Our goal is to help you stop the harassment, end the calls and secure you a high damage award. We do this through individual and national class actions.
Unwanted Telemarketer Calls – More Resources
Still want more information? Visit our other TCPA / Telemarketing posts including:
Illegal Call Recording – TCPA and CIPA (California Invasion of Privacy Act)
How to Get the Goods on an Illegal Telemarketer
We can’t sue a shady telemarketer if we don’t know who they are or where they are calling from. Often getting the caller to identify himself is difficult. Shady operators either block their outgoing caller ID or spoof a number that you are more likely to answer.
Often a computerized voice will guide you through a series of questions. Answer wrong, and the call terminates only to have the same robodialer try again tomorrow.
If you give the answers the computer voice wants to hear, chances are that you will be transferred to a live person. Be careful when answering those questions, however, that you don’t provide passwords, credit card info or the like.
Once you get a live person online, try to get a name, phone number and address. That may take some finesse, however, as the smarter telemarketers will sense when they are being set up and simply hang up. Demanding that they provide their information so that you can sue them has little chance of working (even though it may feel good to make those threats.)
Once you have the basic information on the defendants, we can take over from there. We strongly recommend that you document every call and that in a separate call, you call the company and ask for a copy of their Do Not Call Policy and ask to be put on their internal do not call list. Chances are they will ignore your request but if they do stop, consider that a victory!
Once you have the information about the company making the calls, it’s time to call us. We handle individual and class action cases against robocallers and debt collectors.
Contact us online for a free case evaluation. Once we you make the call you have started the process to regain peace, stop the unwanted calls and obtain significant cash damages.