An article in the Dallas News a few weeks back talked about a disreputable company that claims to monitor people’s credit. The company charges a monthly fee to help with “identity management.” Unfortunately, the company actually exposed customers to greater exposure for credit fraud. The company made it easy to sign up for their service online, but it made it difficult to cancel the subscription. Companies that make it easy to register online but hard to exit are known as “roach motels.” Ultimately, the company found itself in the midst of a class action lawsuit for harassing customers with multiple sales calls. One customer had over 5200 calls in two years. These calls are likely in violation of Federal law.
President George H. W. Bush signed the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991. The TCPA makes it illegal for telemarketers to use automated telephone equipment for telephone solicitations. It also restricts use of using auto-dialers, prerecorded voice messages, texts, and faxes for sales. Businesses are also required to only call during certain hours of the day and abide by the National Do Not Call Registry. Popular and well known companies have sued for violating the law. A lawsuit in Illinois alleges that DraftKings, the online fantasy sports betting site, sent automated texts in violation of the law. The following is a list of prohibitions under the TCPA:
- Calling residences before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., local time.
- Failure to maintain a company-specific “do-not-call” (DNC) list of consumers who asked not to be called; the DNC request must be honored for 5 years.
- Failure to honor the National Do Not Call Registry.
- Failing to provide their name, the name of the person or entity on whose behalf the call is being made, and a telephone number or address at which that person or entity may be contacted.
- Making solicitations to residences that use an artificial voice or a recording
- Making calls using automated telephone equipment or an artificial or prerecorded voice to an emergency line (e.g., “911”), a hospital emergency number, a physician’s office, a hospital/health care facility/elderly room, a cellular telephone, or any service for which the recipient is charged for the call.
- Using autodialed calls that engage two or more lines of a multi-line business.
- Making unsolicited advertising faxes.
Companies that violate these laws may be subject to penalties of $500 to $1500 per call. Congress established these steep penalties to discourage businesses from engaging in these illegal practices. If you are receiving these types of calls or messages and want them to stop, let the company know and put yourself on the Do Not Call Registry. You may also want to consult with a consumer protection lawyer about your rights.