Have you ever received a call to your cell phone from an unknown number and answered the call only to find a machine on the line trying to sell you something, or worse, collect a debt? Those calls are not only annoying, but they’re also a violation of federal law.
The Telephone Consumer Practice Act (TCPA) was enacted by Congress to protect consumers from telemarketers. Section 227 specifically prohibits the use of automatic telephone dialing systems (ATDS), commonly called Robocalls. ATDS or Robocalls to your cell phone, without prior consent, are a violation of the law.
You Can Be Paid $500 to $1500 Per Call
The penalty for making Robocalls to your cell phone without prior consent is $500 per call ($1500 per call if you can prove the calls were made willfully). That means if a telemarketer or debt collector Robocalls your phone 10 times, you could file a federal lawsuit and receive an award between $5,000 and $15,000.
Why would companies use ATDS or Robocalls to consumers’ cell phones if doing so exposes them to such hefty penalties? Because Robocalls are extremely efficient. Instead of hiring people to sell products, service or collect debts, companies can use sophisticated computers to dial thousands of calls automatically. This allows businesses or debt collectors to reach consumers quickly and efficiently. And until consumers begin vigorously enforcing the law, companies and debt collectors may find it cost effective to continue their illegal practices.
3 things You Should Do If You Receive Robocalls To Your Cell Phone
There are a few things you should do if you receive Robocalls to your cell phone without prior consent.
First, if you have a smart phone, take a screenshot of the call log. Taking a screenshot of the call log or call history documents the violation. This evidence may be used later to prove the how many illegal Robocalls you received, thus entitling you to $500 or $1500 per call.
Second, if you miss the call but your voicemail picks up and the Robocall leaves a prerecorded message, save the message. Like the screenshot of your call log, a voicemail may be used as evidence that the company or debt collector is Robocalling your cellphone, again entitling you to $500 or $1500 per call.
Finally, seek the advice of an attorney who specializes in consumer law. The TCPA interacts with various federal and state laws which may strengthen you case. In addition, the TCPA contains some defenses that companies may assert against the consumer. A consumer law attorney will evaluate the facts of your case and help you enforce the TCPA in federal court.
If you have been receiving Robocalls to your cell phone, give us a call. We fight for consumers and may be able to help you get $500 or $1500 per call.