• Consumer Protection Law and Advocacy — Chicago, IL

Robo Calls

Robocalls Continue To Harass Consumers

Robocalls continue at record rates. Between January and August of this year alone, the Federal Trade Commission received over 3.5 million consumer complaints about these disruptive (and often, deceptive) calls.  This is more than the 3.4 million complaints registered for all of 2016.

Robocalls impact everyone, even those registered for the Do Not Call list. In June, a federal judge approved a $280 million dollar penalty against Dish Network for its calling practices but this hasn’t stopped industry from doubling down:

Illegal robocalls are more than just a frustrating invasion of consumers’ privacy, according to the testimony, as callers frequently use fraud and deception to pitch their goods and services, leading to significant economic harm. Such robocalls also are often used by criminal imposters posing as trusted officials or companies.

https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2017/10/ftc-testifies-us-senate-special-committee-aging-continuing-fight.

Worse, many consumers report that the calls they receive look to be from a local number. They answer the call, thinking it must be a family member or friend. But instead, the call is from a scammer or marketer, using a practice called “spoofing.” Even following the recent hurricanes, fraudsters have used using caller ID spoofing and robocall technology to target residents of areas hit by the storms with scam calls about flood insurance.

So what can you do? First, never give out personal information over the phone or agree to any payment until you have independently verified the call is legitimate, reviewed online information about the company calling or requested confirmation in writing be mailed to you BEFORE you agree to sign up for any service or payment.

Next, keep track of the numbers that call you. Take screenshots or write down the dates and times of each call. Keep your incoming call logs that may appear on your monthly phone bills because, if you eventually want to take legal action, you will need evidence of call frequency.

And finally, remember you have the right to opt-out of future calls. Tell the caller to remove you from the company list, respond to unsolicited text messages with a “STOP,” and limit the places to which you provide your phone number in the first place.

Robocalls Continue Despite Consumer Protection Laws

Back in June, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) adopted a proposal that strengthens consumer protections against unwanted robocalls and text messages.  Read the press release at https://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-strengthens-consumer-protections-against-unwanted-calls-and-texts.   As the FCC explains, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (or “TCPA”) requires that a caller have express prior consent to make non-emergency autodialed, prerecorded or artificial voice calls to cell phones.  And just last week, the FCC cautioned political campaigns:

“With the 2016 campaign season underway, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau reminds political campaigns and calling services that there are clear limits on the use of autodialed calls or texts (known as “robocalls”) and prerecorded voice calls. The FCC is committed to protecting consumers from harassing, intrusive, and unwanted robocalls and texts, including to cell phones and other mobile devices.”

http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2016/db0314/DA-16-264A1.pdf

But despite the TCPA and issued bulletins, advocates continue to receive numerous complaints from consumers receiving multiple “spam” calls and texts on their cell phones.  Here is how to tell if you may have a TCPA claim:

  • You receive a pre-recorded voicemail message or text message on your cell phone from a company you’ve never done business with
  • You answer a call on your cell phone and you hear “dead air” before someone speaks to you
  • You recently changed cell phone numbers and you’re receiving multiple calls for someone else
  • You are on the Do Not Call registry but keep receiving solicitations

Don’t hesitate to contact an attorney for assistance if you experience any of the above.  Not only can you try and make the calls and texts stop, but companies who violate the law may have to pay you between $500 and $1500 per violation.