Judgment Against Cable Giant For Robocalls Highlights Consequence Of Violating The TCPA

Autodialing technology is so cheap, companies are using it to contract customers about everything from sales to past due accounts. While the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA) protects consumers from unwanted phone calls from businesses, some companies ignore the law and use robocalls to hound people regardless of their objections. However, a recent court judgment against a well-known cable giant demonstrates how misuse of robocalling can result in a hefty payday for affected consumers. Here's more information about the case and what you can do to hold companies accountable for this type of telephone abuse.

The Road to an Automated Payday

The problem started when the plaintiff in the case began receiving automated calls for one of the cable company's customers who had been the previous owner of her telephone number. The calls were made using an interactive voice response system. Despite notifying a customer service agent that she was not the person the company was looking for, the plaintiff continued to receive automated calls.

In fact, the plaintiff received an additional 74 robocalls (bringing the total to 153 overall) from the company after she filed a lawsuit against it in March 2014.

A federal judge rejected the company's argument that it was not guilty of violating the TCPA because it had permission to call the phone number from the person who previously owned it. In the end, the company's failure to handle the situation in an appropriate manner resulted in a judgment for the plaintiff in the amount of $229,500.

Making Robocallers Pay

According to the Federal Trade Commission, there has been a significant spike in robocalls fueled by technology that allows people and businesses to make telephone calls cheaply. Autodialers let companies make thousands of calls per minute and bombard consumers with prerecorded messages they have no interest in receiving.

Bill collectors also use this technology to reach customers with outstanding debts. On many occasions, though, the people who receive these calls are not the ones creditors are looking for. Reputable companies will typically update their systems to reflect the change in phone number ownership. However, a good many won't, causing affected consumers to receive hundreds of unwanted phone calls.

The TCPA lists a number of rules companies must adhere to when contacting consumers. The most notable are:

  • It's illegal to send robocalls and automated text messages to cell phones without the owners' prior permission because doing so can use up owners' cell phone minutes or make them incur charges.
  • Telemarketers are not allowed to send robocalls to landlines without the owners' consent or with whom they don't have a prior business relationship.
  • Telemarketers are not allowed to call any number that's on the Do Not Call Registry.

Companies are responsible for keeping their records updated and must provide a way for recipients of the robocalls to opt out of them during the call. Once consumers opt out of future robocalls, companies cannot contact the numbers again using this method unless and until they receive permission from the owners. Any company who violates the TCPA rules can be sued for up to $1,500 per violation.

If you're being harassed with robocalls from a particular company, filing a lawsuit for damages is a good way to get the company to stop. You'll have to show that the calls violated the TCPA which can be done by presenting evidence that you notified the company you didn't want to get any more calls from it and that you continued receiving robocalls afterwards. This can be done by presenting:

  • Phone records highlighting incoming calls
  • A written record of calls received with the time of the call and name of the person you spoke too
  • Voice messages
  • Letters or voice recordings stating your request for the company to stop calling

While the lawsuit can be filed in small claims court, you may want to use a regular court if the company's violations add up to a significant amount (e.g. 100 illegal calls at $1,500 per call is $150,000).

For more information on suing companies or assistance with putting together a viable case, pop over to this website or contact a personal injury attorney.