So you answer your phone or check your voice mail and there's a pre-recorded or robotic voice at the other end of the line. Is that legal? In many cases it is NOT LEGAL, and you may recover money damages for this abuse.
Complaints about phone solicitations are at an all-time high. But the most disturbing trend is the rise in these “robo calls”, the irritating automated or prerecorded phone messages and texts. These unwanted calls are usually debt collection calls or solicitations trying to sell you something you don't want.
The federal do-not-call list
The federal do-not-call list was enacted in 2003 to limit telemarketing sales calls to people who didn't want to be hassled. Essentially, you just enter your phone number (land line or cell phone or both) with the registry, and you cannot legally be called by certain telemarketers. There are significant exceptions regarding who can still call you:
- The registry only applies to residential lines, not business lines.
- A person may still receive calls from political organizations.
- A person may still receive calls from not-for-profit organizations.
- A person may still receive calls from those conducting surveys.
- A person may still receive calls from companies with which he or she has an existing business relationship for up to 18 months after his or her last purchase, payment, or delivery from it, unless person specifically asks the company not to call again.
- A person may still receive calls from a company up to 31 days after submitting an application or inquiry to that company, unless the company is specifically asked not to call.
- A person may still receive calls from bill collectors (either primary creditors or collection agencies). These callers are, however, regulated by other laws, such as those limiting them to calling during “reasonable hours.” Some creditors may not call debtors who file for bankruptcyprotection.
The do-not-call registry has over 200 million phone numbers on it.
Telemarketers are supposed to check the list every 31 days for numbers they can't call. Of course mistakes occur and/or businesses just ignore the law. So, more calls are being made and more complaints are being lodged. You can go to the government website to https://www.donotcall.gov/ to add your phone numbers and stop receiving these calls.
Government figures show monthly robocall complaints have climbed from about 65,000 in October 2010 to more than 212,000 in 2013. More general complaints from people asking a telemarketer to stop calling them also rose during that period, from about 71,000 to 182,000. At the same time, fewer telemarketers are checking the FTC list to see which numbers are off limits. In 2007, more than 65,000 telemarketers checked the list. Last year, only about 34,000 did so.
What can you do if they don't stop calling?
Under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, (TCPA), an individual who receives a call after a name removal request has been given or who receives an unauthorized automated call has a private right of action in court and may sue for $500 in damages for each violation. In some cases, the courts can levy triple damages. Similar suits may be filed for violations of the TCPA's provisions regarding faxes, auto dialers, and artificial or prerecorded messages.
So be smart, and keep alert about these calls. Save your voice mails. You may be able to stop this abuse and also recover damages as a result. Contact the Alexander Law Firm if you feel you have been the victim of automated call abuse.