The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) prohibits certain types of telemarketing calls and telemarketing activity. Congress passed the TCPA in 1991 to address several distinct issues: (1) the use of automated dialing equipment and prerecorded messages, (2) telemarketing calls using “live” callers, and (3) fax transmissions. In 2003, the FCC amended its rules under the TCPA to implement the national Do-Not-Call list.
The TCPA prohibits any telephone call to a residential telephone line using an artificial or prerecorded message, unless the call falls under an exemption. It also prohibits telephone solicitations to residential telephone subscribers before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m. and telephone solicitations to persons who are registered with the national do-not-call registry for more than 30 days. Under the TCPA, telemarketers are required to maintain their own internal do-not-call list. This includes personnel training, mandatory record keeping, and disclosure of certain identifying information during telephone solicitations. Telemarketers are prohibited from calling individuals who have indicated they do not want to be called.
A person or entity may bring a private cause of action for a violation of the TCPA. The TCPA authorizes an action to recover for actual monetary loss from such a violation or to receive $500 in statutory damages for each violation, whichever is greater. If the court finds that the defendant acted willfully or knowingly in violating the TCPA, the court can increase the amount of statutory damages up to $1,500 for each violation. Federal and state courts have concurrent jurisdiction over private TCPA lawsuits, so consumers can bring a TCPA claim in either state or federal court.
The TCPA is an effective way for people to fight back against illegal telemarketing. Some other possible causes of action might arise under the Telephone and Consumer Fraud Prevention Act, Michigan Consumer Protection Act, or Home Solicitation Sales Act. There may also be applicable common law causes of action such as invasion of privacy and infliction of emotional distress.
If you have received unwanted telemarketing calls and would like to discuss your rights with one of our attorneys, call us at (248) 457-6000.
The TCPA can be found at 47 U.S.C. § 227.
The TCPA regulations can be found at 47 C.F.R. §§ 64.1200, et seq.
You can sign up for the national do-not-call registry at https://www.donotcall.gov/.