Florida TCPA Violations Lawyers
Are You Receiving Repeated, Harassing Phone Calls from Creditors?
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act, or TPCA, is a Federal Consumer Protection statute that you may often hear advertisements for on the radio and television. That’s because it's one of the only statutes that can grant you monetary compensation per violation (vs. the entire case all together).
Under the FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act) and the FCCPA (Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act), and most of the other alphabet soup statutes, it doesn't matter if they violate it once or they violate it a million times, you still have one cause of action with one opportunity to get statutory damages in the amount of up to $1,000 (personally, we disagree with this analysis for multiple reasons).
Under the TCPA, however, your damages could equal $500 per phone call that's made to you, or up to $1,500 per phone call if you can show that the calls were made in willful violation of the TCPA. Believe it or not, this could actually be a lot easier to prove than it may seem.
What Is the Telephone Consumer Protection Act?
Have you ever answered the phone to someone saying “Hello? Hello? Sorry I think my connection went out, this is XYZ with XYZ calling about your XYZ credit card…” Yeah, a lot of us have! The TCPA is a good statute because, these days, a lot of people are using auto-dialing technology, and the TCPA is designed to prevent people from having to deal with auto-dialed calls.
Like the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), there are some prerequisites, if you will, to being able to file a lawsuit under the TCPA.
Before filing a lawsuit under the TCPA, you must make sure the following are true:
You Cannot Have Given Your Express Consent
Many people don’t realize that they have given this consent. When do you unknowingly give consent? When you sign up for a credit card or almost any kind of credit these days, they give you an application that you need to fill out in person, online, wherever, and they always ask you for a phone number.
If you provide your telephone number, you're giving them express consent to call you at that telephone number for whatever purpose they deem necessary. Many people don't understand that just by providing that number, far often more than not, you're giving them express consent to be called on that number. Express consent invalidates a cause of action under the TCPA, meaning there is not much that you can do about it.
They Have To Be Using an Auto-Dialer
The definition of auto-dialer can be very technical, but basically the telephone system that is used to call you needs to be able to call you without any kind of human intervention to be considered auto-dialer. That's where the tricky part of it lies, because what do they mean any human intervention?
If someone presses a button and it auto-dials the whole phone number, does that count? Somebody had to load the software onto the system in order to be able to function like that, does that count as human intervention?
Congress could easily fix this problem by providing us a definition of an auto-dialer, but let’s not hold our breath waiting for Congress to do anything anytime soon (if at all). So, what is an auto dialer? There are a lot of cases that discuss that, but simply put, an auto-dialer is any system(s) that can call you without someone having to dial a phone number themselves.
They Have To Be Calling Your Cell Phone
There is a provision for non-cell phones, but it's not particularly useful in most cases if you wish to file a violation under the TCPA. The cell phone is where the serious violations come into play. Most people have cell phones, and they don't want to be called by random people they don't know on their personal cell phone.
So again, if they call your home phone or your business phone, and they're using an auto-dialer to do it, and they call you again and again and again and again, it doesn't matter. There is not much you can do about it. But if they call your cell phone, that's when the TCPA kicks in.
It Has To Be for Non-Emergency Purposes
TCPA does not apply if they need to get ahold of you for some kind of emergency. Now, what emergency does the credit card company have to get ahold of you? We don't know. But it exists in that statue.
TCPA Limits the Use of Automated Voices
The thing we like about the TCPA, that a lot of defense lawyers don't appreciate, is that it does not just limit the use of auto-dialers; it limits the use of automated voices as well. So maybe they are not using an auto-dialer to call somebody, but maybe the voice on the other end when that person picks up is a recorded or an automated voice.
What Is Considered an Automated Voice?
Siri is an automated voice. An automatic message that plays is an automated voice—maybe a real person recorded it, but unless they're actually saying it to you on the other end of the line, it’s been prerecorded and is not allowed. So, a lot of defense attorneys will try to claim, “We didn't violate the TCPA because it's not an auto-dialer.” But if they are using a prerecorded or automated voice, it’s not okay.
Our Florida Telephone Consumer Protection Act Attorneys Are Here to Help
If you think a creditor has been in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) call us today to schedule your complimentary strategy session. Our Florida TCPA violation lawyers will thoroughly review your potential case and let you know where you stand. We’ll help you preserve the evidence to fight these abusive telephone practices.
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