As a local Computer Repair Shop in King, NC we get a lot of questions about Cell Phones. Essentially they are just mini-computers. One question we get asked about reguariliy, and something our business deals with is Robocalls. Every couple months robocalls get covered in the news, our ears perk up, we listen and then later forget the information when we needed. That's what we took the time to put this information on our own website.
When it comes to telemarketers and robocalls the story usually begins with inconvenient timing:
It's 7:00 PM, the smell of homemade tomato sauce has been permeated thru the house for the past hour and your stomach has been rumbling non-stop, your body's way of letting you know you're hungry. You walked into the kitchen to see fresh vegetables from the garden are already cut up for a healthy salad, traces of noodle still sticking on the kitchen cabinet door, a sign that dinner is almost ready. You call the kids down from their room where they have been diligently studying and finishing their homework. Everyone sits down around the family table to enjoy a hot meal, everyone takes hands to bow their head and say thanks...
Okay... who am I kidding. It's 2022 the dynamic has likely changed a bit. You just pulled into the driveway after leaving Soccer Practice, you had to make a quick stop at your favorite restaurant to pickup dinner, you're oldest is in the back seat screaming because their younger brother won't stop poking him, you've got a million things to do... kids need a bath (no sense doing that first dinner is hot and the kids will likely end up wearing some of it), homework assignments, the lawn is six inches tall, the dog and cat need to be fed (at least cat won't let you forget) and all the dishes need to be unloaded from the dishwasher from the night before...
Whatever your family dinner dynamic there is one thing they both have in common. That first bite of food enters your mouth and then that DAMN phone rings. It may be a home phone, but more than likely its the cell phone laying across the room on the kitchen counter. You get up, because you know... it might be something important and you answer the phone.
"Hello"... "Hello"... *beep* "We're calling to notify you of your cars extended warranty."
Your blood is boiling now just reading that. Phones are great, they connect us to the world around us; our friends and family, but unfortunately also those blasted robocalls! What can you do? Instinctively you hang up.
Hopefully that video clip brought that boiling blood down a few degrees and gave you a laugh. Now that you're calmed back down the first thing you should check is to make sure your phone number (and everyone in your household) is on the Do Not Call Registry.
How to Register your Number with the Do Not Call Registry?
Every day, consumers like you and I are harassed with unwanted, and disruptive telephone calls that come through our landline and/or our cell phones. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) was created to stop all unsolicited calls to cell phones and telemarketing calls to landlines on the Do Not Call Registry. Unfortunately it doesn't keep all the calls out, especially the ones that are outright scams. Legitimate businesses they perform calls to sell services typically use the DNCR. Even if it's not 100% you should still register your number and its actually rather simple and you can do it from your computer or smart phone by visiting https://www.donotcall.gov/. If you want to verify your number is registered you can also go here https://www.donotcall.gov/verify.html. Once you're phone is registered you have some protections with the FCC pertaining to TCPA Laws.
Understanding the TCPA Law
In general, the TCPA was created by Congress to stop the intrusion of robocalls. Congress empowered the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to ensure that consumer’s rights were protected regarding unsolicited telephone calls, prerecorded messages, and texts. The FCC website is extensive, and provides the ability to submit complaints. More information here: https://www.fcc.gov/general/telemarketing-and-robocalls
What is considered a Telephone Solicitation?
Any robocalls to cellphones or telemarketing calls to land lines on the DNC list are covered by TCPA Law. If a telephone call seems similar to an advertisement on television or on the internet, it is most likely a solicitation.
A telephone solicitation, under TCPA law, includes auto-dialed or computer dialed calls. These calls are usually artificial voice recordings, pre-recorded messages, or text messages to your cell phone. When you answer a call and you hear, “This is an important message for John Doe. Please stay on the line,” you can assume that you have received an unsolicited call under the TCPA. Some pre-recorded messages may tell you to call back a telephone number, while others will say, “Please hold for the next available representative.” Some auto dialers are tricky to determine, but you may hear a clicking noise before a human being voice picks up and speaks to you. Those are robocalls, as well.
Now that you understand exactly what a phone call under the TCPA law entails, you need to know how to file a complaint. The FCC has provided some simple ways to stop these calls, and, if necessary, file a complaint. The first action you can take is to add your phone numbers to the national Do Not Call registry which was covered early. You could also ask your telephone company if they offer robocall blocking technology approved by the FCC. Alert unsolicited callers that you do not consent to their calls, and record the number that the call came from and the date and time you made the request.
How to Fill a Complaint with the FCC
If you have tried the above steps, but you are still receiving robocalls, you can file a complaint on the FCC website. Simply fill in your email address, a description of your complaint, select the issue that best describes your complaint, and provide any attachments, such as screenshots from your phone. It should take 15 minutes or less to fill out the FCC complaint form. Or you can call 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) if it is easier for you to file the complaint over the phone. There's an option to do this by mail but I wouldn't waste the envelope and cost of a stamp personally.
Who Can File a TCPA Lawsuit?
Anyone can file a TCPA suit as long as certain factors are met, such as if you’ve:
A company you don’t have an established business relationship with has been contacting you.
Requested that a company stops contacting you, but they haven’t.
Received pre-recorded telemarketing calls and robocalls.
Made a Do Not Call request and still got unwanted calls from a business.
Received spam and pre-recorded messages.
Received automated calls before 8 a.m. and after 9 p.m.
All of these violate the federal statute, and you have a claim against the company or person who is calling.
Process of Filing a TCPA Complaint
Filing a TCPA complaint is fairly simple and can be done online. To stop unsolicited calls, go to the Do Not Call Registry website and add your phone numbers.
If you still continue to receive calls on your cell phones and landline, you can file a complaint on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) website:
Fill in your email address
Describe the complaint
Select the issue that describes your complaint
Include attachments, such as cell phone screenshots
Damages for TCPA Lawsuit
You can get monetary compensation for unsolicited phone calls and text messages if you file a lawsuit. TCPA damages allow you to get $500 per violation and up to $1,500 if you hire an attorney who can prove the company willingly violated the TCPA. For example, if you’ve requested a company to stop calling and they continue to call.
How Do I Sue for a TCPA Violation?
To sue for a TCPA violation, you should get a lawyer and make sure you have proof of violation. Record communication between you and the business you want to sue, such as calls and voice messages, and have screenshots of messages. After researching Attorney's in the Piedmont Triad of North Carolina the closest Law Office that handles TCPA Consumer Protection Laws is James Scott Farrin in Greensborro, NC and Durham, NC.
Using Technology to Prevent Robocalls?
There are a lot of different tools you can use on your cell phone to prevent scam calls, telemarketers and robocalls. Most Cell Phone including AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile have an App or Service that filters calls pretty well.
In addition to carrier options several third party vendors have created Apps and Services to accomplish the same thing. Whether you're running the latest iPhone with iOS or have your trusty Samsung Galaxy or Google Pixel running Android, there are apps you can put on your phone to help with this nuisance. Popular Apps include RoboKiller, YouMail, and True Caller. PC Mag did an excellent job of covering these products on their own website here How to Block Robocalls and Spam Calls 2022
Dealing with and Preventing Robocalls Summary
Hopefully this content helps bring a little light at the end of the tunnel; and maybe, just maybe allow you and your family to get back to enjoying that meal no matter how chaotic it may be.
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