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Illinois Tightens Laws on Autodialers and Robo-Calls

Under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act ("TCPA") the Federal Communications Commission ("FCC") issues rules and regulations allowing consumers to file suit and collect damages for receiving unsolicited telemarketing calls, faxes, pre-recorded calls, autodialed calls, robo-calls or SMS text messages. 

"Telemarketing" calls are calls received by a consumer made by advertisers offering products or services to consumers.  Autodialed calls are phone calls made with an actual person or pre-recorded message that is placed using an "autodialer" or automatic telephone dialing system.  This system produces and stores telephone numbers using a random number generator.  A robo-call is a phone call that uses an "autodialer" system to deliver a pre-recorded telemarketing message.  Also included under the umbrella of the TCPA are SMS text messages sent to cell phones if they are submitted for marketing or collection purposes. 

Illinois, among numerous other states, now requires express consent from a consumer prior to engaging in telemarketing calls or text messages.  While exceptions such as calls manually dialed that do not contain a pre-recorded message do exist, an established business relationship will no longer relieve an advertiser or collector from this express consent requirement. 

Compliance with the new amendment to the TCPA may be satisfied by electronic and digital forms of a signature including consent from a consumer by email, a website form, text message, telephone key press or voice recording.  This consent however must be unambiguous, meaning the consumer must be clear and certain that he or she has agreed to receive calls or texts by autodialer or pre-recorded messages and the consumer must designate the phone number at which the communication may be placed.     

In the past, companies could rely on an established business relationship to avoid the express consent requirement however under the new amendment, such a relationship is no longer sufficient.  Failure to comply with the TCPA allows a consumer to recover either actual damages or statutory damages ranging from $500.00 to $1,500.00 per violation. 

If you believe you are involved in a violation of the TCPA and need legal advice, contact SmithMarco P.C. for a free case review.

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