Government Gets New Powers to Fight Robocalls
The government is getting new powers to severely punish companies that abuse consumer telephones. Just this month, Congress passed a new law that will allow the Federal Communications Commission to fine robocallers up to $10,000 per call. The new law also requires that phone companies use new technologies to identify robocalls, and inform consumers when they are being called by a robocaller.
The new technology is already being used by many phone companies. It allows the companies to ensure that the number is originating from the actual number that shows up on the consumer’s caller ID, instead of a spoofed one. Many scammers use false phone numbers, which may show that the calls are from a familiar area code, to get consumers to answer phones.
The law also extends the statute of limitations, which will allow the government more time to investigate scammers, and fine them.
Robocalls Are An Increasing Problem
Scam phone calls are a huge problem for consumers. One study found that over 44% of all calls to consumer cell phones were from scammers or robocallers. The number of complaints about robocallers is up 35% since 2015.
The new law increases the powers of the federal government to go after robocallers, but consumers have always had a way to do so through the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The act allows consumers to sue for unwanted robocalls, and obtain between $500-$1,500 per call.
Some of these robocalls may come from overseas scammers, but many come from local businesses, or debt collectors, which use automated technology to make calls. If you’ve ever received a call that left a message with a pre-recorded or robotic-sounding voice, you’ve probably been robocalled.
Debt collectors particularly love this technology, because it allows them to make multiple calls at one time. Debt collectors use automated dialers, which automatically dial numbers. If there is nobody to pick up, their agents are not bothered, thus saving them time. If someone does pick up the call, the call is routed to an actual debt collector agent. If you’ve ever picked up a call, heard a pause or a message telling you to hold, and then had a live human pick up the phone, you’ve probably been called using an autodialer.
What to Do If You Are Robocalled
In almost every case, use of an autodialer or a pre-recorded message is a violation of the TCPA. If you receive these messages, you should preserve any voicemails—do not delete them. If you believe you have been called using an automated dialing machine (that is, you hear a pause when you pick up the phone, or a message, before you are routed to a live human being), make note of the time you received the call, and the number that was calling you.
Robocalls can add up over time, meaning that they can become a huge annoyance, but also meaning you have a right to increased damages when you decide to fight back.
Don’t let businesses or collection agencies annoy or harass you. Contact Jacobs Legal to speak with one of our Miami consumer rights attorneys today.