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Overview of the TCPA

January 4, 2019

Have you been receiving robo-calls to your cell phone? Do your creditors constantly call you with prerecorded messages? Are you receiving spam text messages without your permission? If so, there’s a good chance you might be able to put an end to those unwanted calls and texts and even recover money in certain circumstances.


Back in 1991 Congress recognized that technology, if not used appropriately, could create a real burden for consumers if it was used to place unwanted calls.   This threat to consumers’ privacy lead to the passage of the Telephone Consumer Privacy Act (“TCPA”), 47 U.S.C. §227. The bill regulated the use of automated dialing systems, artificial or prerecorded messages and fax machines.  Subsequent cases have determined that text messages also are regulated by the TCPA. Twenty-eight years after its passage it remains an important cornerstone in consumer protection law.


Specifically, 47 U.S.C. § 227(b)(1)(A)(iii), prohibits any person, absent the prior express consent of a telephone-call recipient, from “mak[ing] any call ... using any automatic telephone dialing system ... to any telephone number assigned to a paging service [or] cellular telephone service.”  In other words unwanted calls to your cell phone placed by an Automatic Telephone Dialing System (ATDS) is a violation of the TCPA. 


So what happens if you are the victim of one of these violations? You can bring a case for statutory penalties.  The amount of the penalty depends on a few factors.  The penalties are described in 47 U.S.C. §227(b)(3).  The minimum penalty is $500 per call or text message.  (47 U.S.C. §227(b)(3)(B)).  But if the calls were done willfully or knowingly then that $500 penalty can be tripled to $1,500 per call or text message.  (47 U.S.C. §227(b)(3)(C)).   


The TCPA also permits a court to enjoin violations of the law. (47 U.S.C. §227(b)(3)(A))  This means that the judge has the power to order a company sending the unwanted messages to stop. 


So to sum it all up, if you are receiving unwanted robo-calls or spam text messages to your cell phone you are protected by the TCPA. Contact the attorneys at Golden & Cardona-Loya, LLP. It is possible to get the court to order the communications to stop. It is also possible to recover up to $1,500 per unwanted communication. We are TCPA attorneys for all of California.  

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