After 25 years since its inception, violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) continue to soar in 2016. This consumer minded statue has seen just over an 80% increase from 2015 and a 15% increase already this year.
Enacted in 1991, the TCPA protects consumers from over zealous debt collectors and telemarketers using automatic telephone dialing systems and artificial prerecorded voice calls known as “robocalls”. The goal of the TCPA is to prohibit companies from making robocalls to a consumer or debtor on a cell phone or other device which costs the consumer or debtor money to receive. Since its inception, the TCPA has been a statute of contention. Some courts have construed the statute broadly, for example finding the term “call” to include text messages and fax submittals, despite this definition not being included specifically in the statute.
The TCPA provides recovery to consumers of $500 per violation and $1500 per willful violation. When you consider the number of calls an automated system can place, damages for violations can quickly escalate. Since the Consumer Financial Protection Agency (“CFPB”) has been monitoring the TCPA, it has continued to regulate big business and collection agencies under the statute. Despite its attention to this issue, TCPA cases have continued to increase by almost 50% annually over the past 5 years.
In a recent settlement under the TCPA, the mortgage company, Mortgage Investors Corporation agreed to pay consumers over $7 million for placing repeated robocalls. In this class action suit, over 3 million consumers argued that the mortgage company placed robocalls to veterans about refinancing their home loans despite the fact that most of these consumers were on the “Do Not Call” list. Mortgage Investors Corporation is not alone, add them to the list of companies that have agreed to pay millions of dollars for violations under the TCPA. In 2014 Capital One agreed to pay $75 million, the largest TCPA settlement in history, and HSBC agreed to pay $40 Million to consumers for violations of the statute. In 2015, Hollister and Abercrombie & Fitch, a retail giant, made a $10 million payout to consumers for sending unsolicited text messages.
As a consumer, when you are contacted by a person or agency without your express consent by an automated dialing system using a prerecorded voice, a robocall, or receive an unsolicited text message, your rights may have been violated under the TCPA. If you are in need of assistance regarding the TCPA and would like to speak with a licensed attorney for a free case review, contact SmithMarco P.C.