Robocalls are more than pesky, unsolicited phone calls we all receive. But did you know that these unwanted solicitations from businesses are often not legal? Recently, questionable telemarketing tactics by smart home products and systems manufacturer Alarm.com led to a $28 million settlement in a class action lawsuit. Also, Jenny Craig recently settled a $3 million lawsuit for violating a law enacted in 1991 called the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) by contacting consumers without expressed permission.
The TCPA is designed to give consumers protection against repeated, automatically-dialed telephone marketing calls—often referred to as “robocalls.” For most types of telephone solicitations, consumers must first “opt in” or give consent before businesses and companies can make contact in this manner or the penalty is a $500 to $1,500 fine for each violation.
Not only are many robocalls in violation of the TCPA, but their aggressive sales messaging often targets those who can afford it the least. “Vulnerable consumers such as the elderly may be unduly susceptible to telemarketing pitches for products that they do not want or need,” says Maureen Mahoney, an analyst for a division of Consumer Reports. But all is not lost, as there are ways to combat these unwanted calls that interrupt our daily lives and create unnecessary stress.
Actions to take include:
- List your phone numbers with the Do Not Call Registry
- Sign up for your wireless carrier’s robocall alert service
- Reject anonymous calls
Realize that even these best practices won’t stop all unwanted calls. For one thing, the volume is mind-boggling: Industry experts estimate there were 4.2 billion robocalls received during August of this year alone (up from 2.4 billion the year prior)—an all-time record, according to the YouMail Robocall Index that began tracking such data in 2015. Additionally, individuals or businesses who resort to such tactics might not be the type to always follow the letter of the law—yet, legal action might be what it takes to suppress their overzealous efforts.
If you are or have been a victim of unsolicited robocalls or faxes soliciting some type of business product or service, an experienced attorney with Baron & Herskowitz can help you understand all potential legal options. Please contact us for a free and confidential legal consultation.