Robocalls – Odds are they’re illegal…
Robocallers violate consumer rights. But, you can fight back. If you are frustrated with robocalls, there are steps you can take to stop them, and maybe even put some money in your pocket.
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You are hanging out with your family on a Friday night. Suddenly your phone rings. It’s a local number so you pick up. You hear a recorded message instead of a live person. It’s another robocall.
Robocalls are Illegal
If you’re getting lots of robocalls trying to sell you something, odds are the calls are illegal. Many are also scams. Any robocall trying to sell you something is illegal, unless the company trying to sell you something got written permission, directly from you, allowing them to contact you like that. To get your permission, the company has to be clear it is asking to call you with robocalls, and it can’t make you agree to the calls to get a product or service. And, even if you give permission, in writing, originally, you can change your mind later on.
A few types of robocalls are allowed under FTC rules without your written permission. For example, messages that are purely informational (like your flight being cancelled), debt collection calls, political calls about candidates running for office, calls from healthcare providers (like pharmacies reminding you to refill your prescription), or charities asking for donations, are typically legal. But, if the robocalls are trying to sell you something, like insurance, or a home warranty, or a car warranty, odds are the calls are illegal.
Junk faxes are also illegal! Anyone who sends a fax needs to include a phone number and source name on each faxed page.
Robocallers violate consumer rights. But, you can fight back.
What do I do if I get illegal robocalls?
First, add your phone number to the FTC “Do Not Call List” Registry. Registering your phone number can cut down on unwanted calls significantly. You can register for free by:
- Visiting: https://www.donotcall.gov and following the easy prompts; or
- Calling: 1-888-382-1222 from the number you want listed.
Registering goes a long way toward cutting down on robocalls. But, if you haven’t registered, or you registered, and are still getting robocalls, there are a few more aggressive steps you can take.
First, identify who the call is from. Try to get the company’s name. Telemarketers are required by federal law to provide their contact details. Try to determine the company’s headquarters. Take note of the company’s number. You should look at your phone bill, which will have the actual number that called you. This is especially important if the company is using spoofing technology. Spoofing technology is getting more sophisticated. But, basically, it allows a caller to call from one number say, (831) 555-4763, but, when they call, it shows (831) 555-3000 so it looks more like a legitimate business.
While you’re still on the line make notes about the nature of the call. Was it a pre-recorded message? Was it an artificial, computer-generated voice? Was it an autodialer (listen for a moment of silence or a loud click before the machine forwards you to a live representative, or a pre-recorded message)? Was it a text message? Was it a live representative? Did you speak to a representative? If so, try to get their name. Remember, you should always ask the representative to stop calling you. If you ask them to stop, they must add your name to an internal “do not call list”, and if they call you again, that could mean extra damages.
Next, contact a lawyer. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act, (“TCPA”) makes it illegal to solicit sales to cellular devices via call or text message. It also makes it illegal to solicit sales to devices that get charged per call (probably your home, or work phone). It’s also illegal to send unsolicited sales faxes.
How can an attorney help with robocallers?
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act provides that a person who violates the Telephone Consumer Protection Act is liable for $500 in damages for each violation. If a Court finds that the defendant acted willfully, or knowingly violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, they are liable for $1,500 in damages per violation. That’s $1,500 per call. That can really add up. Araceli King of Texas was awarded $229,500 for getting more than 150 robocalls from Time Warner Cable. An experienced consumer rights lawyer can help you collect.
First, a lawyer will want to know who the company is that is engaged in the robocall. That’s why we would want you to get the company’s name, the phone number they are calling from, and the company’s headquarters. Although, if we have the company’s name, their phone number, and a copy of your bill showing just the robocall(s), we can usually do the rest.
California attorney, John F. McCarthy, takes these cases on a contingency. Typically, we want to negotiate a quick settlement for you. If we can, it works out for you. It works out for us. If we can’t, then we typically suggest pursuing a class action, or turning the robocaller over to the FTC. Robocall class actions can result in big settlements:
- $75.5 Million for Capital One;
- $61 Million for Dish Network;
- $45 Million for AT&T Mobility;
- $32 Million for Bank of America;
- $20 Million for Uber;
- $16.3 Million for Wells Fargo (2016);
- $15.7 Million for Wells Fargo (2017); and
- $10.75 Million from Cox Communications;
If you are frustrated with robocalls, there are steps you can take to stop them, and maybe even put some money in your pocket. The sooner robocallers are confronted, the sooner they are likely to pay, so there is no reason to delay.
If you have been getting unwanted robocalls, fill out our free, confidential, case evaluation form below. The forms are an important part of our intake process and every potential client must fill one out. The forms are completely confidential. They go straight to an award-winning attorney’s inbox.
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