Telephone Consumer Protection Act

“’The right to be left alone is the most comprehensive of rights and the one most valued by civilized man.” – Louis Brandeis.

Most people probably have never heard of the man I quoted above. And for the sake of transparency, I would have never heard of Mr. Brandeis had I never attended Law School. Now if you are reading this you are afforded a great luxury in learning of the existence of Judge Brandeis without having to endure three years of extensive study. Feel free to thank me whenever you have some spare time.

As a Consumer Attorney, I am particularly fond of the sentiment expressed in Lord Brandeis’ above quote. Although we are all consumers, corporations should not be granted unlimited access to us or our devices. Each person ought to be allowed to control their entry into the consumer world. This would be the makings of an ideal world, but as many of you know either from experience or from listening to too many Country songs we do not live in an ideal world and many corporations go to annoying lengths in pursuit of additional human market.

A nuisance we are all too familiar with is that of the telemarketer. Many people are probably unaware that there is legislation that governs the actions of telemarketers. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) is a statute that governs the contacts a corporation may have with a consumer or another business. The TCPA says that it is illegal for anyone to call a cell phone owned by a consumer, or any number or phone equipment that charges the recipient per phone call, using an automated dialing system or automatic or pre-recorded voice. If the recipient has not expressly authorized the party making the phone call to do so, then the phone call is a violation of the TCPA and the recipient is entitled to recover damages.

An automated dialing system any sort of device or machine that stores numbers and then automatically dials them. A pre-recorded voice or automatic voice is a voice any non-live voice. Any time a corporation, that you do not know or that you have not already formed some sort of relationship with, calls a private parties cell phone with an automated or pre-recorded voice or using an automated dialing system, they have violated the TCPA.

A party may not call a privately owned cell-phone unless the recipient has consented to receive phone calls from the party making the calls. If the person receiving the calls states that it is alright to contact him/her then there would be no TCPA violation. Similarly, if a person fills out a credit application and later receives phone calls regarding that application that constitutes express consent and would not be prohibited by the TCPA.

The TCPA is a mechanism meant to ensure a consumer is not punished by the business practices of telemarketers or any other entity that might cause their cell phone to be called. It makes no sense that a telemarketer should be allowed to call you on your cell phone and force you to incur charges as a result; fortunately, the Federal Government agrees and now every consumer is protected by the TCPA.