Stop me if you’ve heard this one. Just as you get home and grab a cold beverage after a long day of work, sit down on the couch, and try to relax for a bit, your cell phone starts ringing. You check to see who it is, hoping it’s a friend or relative, but it’s a number you’re not familiar with and you don’t even recognize the area code.
Curious, you answer the call, hoping that perhaps it’s Publisher’s Clearing House calling to tell you their van is on the way to your place with a big fat check, but instead you’re greeted with an ominous click followed by an automated voice droning on about some “financial opportunity” that you’re wholly uninterested in.
Annoying, isn’t it? And it gets even more annoying if it calls back again and again. But what can you do about it?
Enter the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”), 47 U.S.C. § 227 et seq. The TCPA is a federal statute that makes it illegal for anyone to use an automatic dialing system or artificial or pre-recorded voice to call a cell phone. The best part about this statute is that the content or purpose of the call is irrelevant, which means creditors to whom you legitimately owe money are also prohibited from calling you using an autodialer or automated voice.
If you’re getting calls to your cell phone and the person on the other end of the line isn’t really a “person," then you can sue them under the TCPA (absent a few narrow exceptions, of course). Different rules apply if someone’s calling your landline, but these days many consumers are getting rid of their landlines in favor of their trusty cell phones. This means that if someone wants to bug you via telephone, they have no choice but to call your cell. As landlines rapidly disappear, companies engaging in telephone solicitation will unquestionably begin targeting cell numbers, meaning TCPA violations will increase exponentially.
Most Americans are annoyed by such solicitations but don’t know that they can do anything about it. So if you’re being harassed by a robo-voice on your cell phone and you’re fed up with it, don’t get angry—enforce your rights! See a consumer litigation attorney for assistance immediately. You could be entitled to damages of $500 per phone call.