W&L today announced it will investigate potential claims from consumers pestered by unsolicited phone calls or spam text messages from telemarketers, debt collectors and others.
The law firm said it wants to explore with these victims their right to receive compensation from violators of the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).
The TCPA provides that a consumer dialed up or texted by a culprit advertiser without consent may be entitled to $500 for each phone call made or text message sent — $1,500 for each one if the advertiser willfully ignored the law.
“Unsolicited calls and spam texts are a modern blight, and we want to help empower consumers to stamp them out,” said Robin L. Greenwald, who heads W&L’s Environmental, Toxic Tort & Consumer Protection Unit.
“Besides being maddening, unsolicited calls and spam texts waste our time, invade our privacy, cause us to miss calls and texts we do want to receive, and open us up to hacking and phishing schemes,” she said.
“If you live on a low or fixed income and you depend on a prepaid cell phone, every unsolicited call or spam text means you are just that much less able to use your phone before its airtime allotment is exhausted and you’re forced to buy more,” Greenwald explained.
“In other words, corporations are using consumers to subsidize the corporations’ advertising costs,” she added.
TCPA Lawsuits an Effective Way to Stop Telemarketers
The New York Times has reported that legal remedies may provide some help to beleaguered and call- or spam-weary consumers.
Greenwald agreed, saying she believes lawsuits under the TCPA are an effective way to stop spam text messages. Evidence of the success of TCPA lawsuits is that key industry players are lobbying the Federal Communications Commission to relax TCPA regulations so that industry can carry on as usual with less fear of consumer lawsuits.
“TCPA lawsuits prevent companies from abusing the direct access that cell phones provide into consumers’ private lives,” she said.
As an illustration, W&L attorney Christopher Dalbey pointed to a consumer victory against Life Time Fitness Inc. in February. The gym corporation agreed to pay up to $15 million to end consolidated TCPA lawsuits brought by consumers enraged by Life Time Fitness’ relentless unsolicited text-message campaigns.
“TCPA lawsuits are not intended to prevent consumers from receiving marketing calls and texts they actually want,” Dalbey clarified in explaining that W&L will investigate potential claims only from recipients of unsolicited or unwanted text messages or phone calls.
The firm also wants to explore the legal rights of consumers who received solicitation calls before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., or who received solicitation calls despite having added their name to the TCPA-created Do Not Call Registry.
Reach Out to W&L for Help
Greenwald said W&L can be reached by phone at toll-free (800) 476-6070 or through the firm’s website.
The New York Times has stated that the problem of unsolicited spam texts is growing and carries with it “the potential for significant damage.”
For example, The Times said smartphone users who tap on a spam text might find later that they have inadvertently signed up for a service they can cancel only after mounting a herculean effort.
Greenwald added that the recipient of a spam text will sometimes unintentionally click a link it contains and find himself or herself committed to an ongoing, month-to-month purchase.
“Often these charges go unnoticed and can be difficult to get removed from a cell phone bill,” she said. “That’s why the provisions contained in the TCPA are so valuable for consumers.”