The Rules about Robocalls

Most of us have received a robocall to our cell phone at some point in time. These calls are annoying and inconvenient, especially if they start occurring more and more often.

Congress passed initial Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) legislation back in 1991, and has been refining the ruling ever since. The law limits the use of automatic dialing systems, artificial or pre-recorded voice messages, SMS text messages, and fax machines. It also requires the caller to be identified in the message. 

Robocalls Require Permission 

Telemarketers, lenders, and debt collectors must get your permission before they contact you on your cell phone using a robo-dialer or automated voice. If you provided a cell phone number on a credit application or elsewhere, consent to call that number may be implied.

You Can Revoke Your Consent

You have the right to retract permission. If you want to stop unwanted calls on your cell phone, you need to contact the caller and inform them that they no longer have your consent. It is most effective to handle this request in writing in a letter like this one

In Gager v. Dell Financial Services, the first case of its kind, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia, PA agreed that consumers may block annoying robocalls to their cell phones. Under the TCPA, consumers can revoke any alleged consent implied by applying for credit. Dell Financial’s further efforts to have the appeals court reconsider its ruling were rejected.

Document the Calls

If a telemarketer, lender, or debt collector continues to call your cell phone after you have revoked consent, it is important to document the calls in a call log. You should also retain your cell phone records and identify calls placed to your cell phone.

Take Action

If you continue to receive calls on your cell phone after requesting they stop, you may be able to bring a lawsuit against the caller. The TCPA permits consumers to recover $500 – $1500 for each call placed by the telemarketer, lender, or debt collector after they’ve been told to stop. Contact a consumer rights attorney to discuss your options.