The Telephone Consumer Protection Act is a consumer’s best friend…unfortunately, most consumers (and most attorneys, for that matter) are completely unaware of the protections it affords. Essentially, under the TCPA if an individual or company contacts you on your cellphone using a robo-dialer, they have to pay you up to $1,500 per call.
So how can you tell if you’re being called by a robo-dialer? It’s actually pretty easy: anytime you answer a phone call and there is a long pause before an individual joins the line or there is a pre-recorded voice, you have probably been robo-dialed. We see this very often in the debt collection context, but it’s hardly limited to that arena. In the past few years, many large corporations have paid millions of dollars in damages under the TCPA, including Hooters, Papa Johns, and Bank of America.
Now, like any rule, there are exceptions, the biggest one being that if you consent to receive robo-dialed calls, you may not recover. Additionally, the prohibition on robo-dialed calls does not apply to land-lines (though there do exist rules preventing pre-recorded telemarketing calls.) Like any area of law, any particular case will be very fact specific. Nonetheless, the amount of damages that can accrue under the TCPA makes it a consumer’s best friend.