Unwanted robocalls and text messages — have you had enough?
As a cellphone owner, you have most likely experienced unwanted calls from telemarketers, robocallers, and spammy text messages. There are common measures you can take to minimize unwanted calls. CNN Business detailed a list of free applications and software available from major cellphone carriers that you can download to your phone (or that may already come pre-installed) to block unwanted callers.
Verizon’s Call Filter app is free to download on iPhones and Android devices. The app offers some free features that include auto-blocking calls from known fraudsters, showing warning banners for suspicious calls, and a spam reporting tool. AT&T’s Call Protect has similar free features. T-Mobile phones come loaded with Scam ID, which warns customers about suspicious phone numbers. It’s also free to activate Scam Block, which automatically rejects calls from those numbers. Sprint’s Premium Caller ID, which comes pre-installed, looks up unknown numbers and filters and blocks robocalls for a fee. All the above carriers offer enhanced features for a monthly fee.
If none of these apps work to deter persistent unwanted calls, you can always file a lawsuit.
In 1991, the U.S. Congress passed the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA). The TCPA, including later amendments, restricts the following:
- Initiating any telephone call to any residential telephone line using an artificial or prerecorded voice to deliver a message without prior express consent of the called party (a.k.a. telemarketing, robocalling)
- Sending unsolicited advertisement to a person’s fax machine, unless the sender has an established business relationship with the recipient
- Sending unsolicited text messages transmitted for marketing purposes
TCPA also limits the use of automatic dialing systems and artificial or prerecorded voice messages. Solicitors are required to maintain a company-specific “do-not-call” (DNC) list of consumers who asked not to be called. Solicitors must also honor the national Do Not Call Registry established by the FCC.
A person who has received more than one telephone call within a 12-month period that violates any provision of the TCPA may sue for damages, and receive up to $500 in damages for each violation, the actual amount of damages, or whichever is greater.
Violating the TCPA has some serious consequences: Capital One and its affiliated companies was sued in a class action by consumers who received non-emergency telephone calls on their cellphones via an automatic telephone dialing system or an artificial or prerecorded voice, attempting to collect on a credit card debt. The litigation lasted several years and was settled for $75,455,098.74.
In the case of text messages that are transmitted for marketing purposes, the law requires that the sender must first receive clear “written consent before telemarketing call or text message is made, regardless of whether there is an established business relationship or not.”
On your own initiative, you can help stop the unwanted robocalls by informing class action attorneys who can seek injunction in court against these companies.
The Law Offices of C. Joe Sayas, Jr. welcomes inquiries about this topic. All inquiries are confidential and at no-cost. You can contact the office at (818) 291-0088 or visit www.joesayaslaw.com or our Facebook page Joe Sayas Law. [C. Joe Sayas, Jr., Esq. is an experienced trial attorney who has successfully recovered wages and other monetary damages for thousands of employees and consumers. He was named Top Labor & Employment Attorney in California by the Daily Journal, consistently selected as Super Lawyer by the Los Angeles Magazine, is the recipient of PABA’s Community Champion Award, and is a Presidential Awardee for Outstanding Filipino Overseas in 2018.]
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