- Federal Law Prohibits Unwanted Calls to Cell Phones
Most people find unwanted cell phone calls and texts annoying. Luckily, a federal law, the TCPA, prohibits unwanted calls from being placed to cell phones. Time Warner Cable Inc. was ordered to pay a consumer $229,500 for placing 153 automated calls in less than a year. Consumers frequently receive the type of unwanted calls that the consumer in this case received.
Businesses place unwanted calls to consumers for a variety of purposes, including sales, marketing, debt collection and surveys. The TCPA prohibits calls without the prior express consent of the called party using any automatic teelphone dialing system or artificial or prerecorded voice. In other words, businesses may not use certain kinds of computerized dialing systems to cell phones unless they have the consumer’s permission. The TCPA gives consumers the right to bring claims against those persons or businesses who violate the law and to recover $500 for each violation. The statute also allows the court to increase the recovery up to $1,500 for each violation of the law that was willful or knowing.
Costly Calls: Time Warner Places 153 Debt Collection Calls to Wrong Person
Time Warner Cable (Time Warner) is a national cable telecommunication company. Araceli King is a long-time customer of Time Warner. Time Warner uses an “interactive voice response” system (IVR) to advise customers that their accounts are past due. The IVR system automatically identifies past due accounts by referencing billing records and then dials the phone number associated with the account. When the call is answered by a live person or voicemail, the IVR system will play a prerecorded message.
Ms. King provided her cellular telephone number to Time Warner. However, Time Warner had associated Ms. King’s cellular number with an unrelated customer, “Luis Perez”. The IVR system placed 163 calls to Ms. King. Each time the IVR system played a message stating, in part, that is was seeking the unrelated customer, not Ms. King. Ms. King claimed that she had not consented to receive any of the calls. Moreover, the Court found that Ms. King had “revoked consent” when she answered an IVR placed call and instructed Time Warner to stop calling her.
Accordingly, the Court found that the 153 calls that were placed after Ms. King instructed Time Warner to stop, were made without consent and violated the TCPA. Time Warner continued to place calls to Ms. King even after her lawsuit was served on them. The Court found that the 153 calls placed after Ms. King revoked consent were willful violations of the law and that the calls placed after the lawsuit was served were particularly eggregious.
Stop Calling: How to Revoke Consent
Consumers frequently receive unwanted cell phone calls for sales, marketing, debt collection and surveys. These calls violate the law if they are placed without consent through the use of a computerized dialing system or uses a recorded message. Even if the consumer consented to receive the initial call or calls, the consumer may revoke their consent to receive future calls. Consent maybe revoked verbally or in writing, simply by instructing the caller to stop calling. If consent is revoked in writing, then it is worthwhile to keep a copy of the letter or other written instruction, along with proof of receipt.
Likewise, if consent is revoked verbally, then it’s helpful to create a note recording the following information:
- the date, time and length of the call;
- the name of the person to whom you spoke;
- the caller’s number;
- the substance of the conversation, including your specific instruction (e.g. “stop calling me”)
- identify this call on your cellular telephone bill or call log
If you have received robocalls from telemarketers, debt collectors, or other harassing cell phone calls, then we can help. Get your no obligation case evaluation.