Legal Blog

How to Stop Unsolicited Marketing Calls and Make Money in the Process | Part One

A Guide to Starting a Self-Represented Lawsuit in New York

Introduction

 

The businessman calling by phone.Ring ring.

“Hi. This is Rachel with card services. You have been selected to receive a special offer. Press 1 to be connected to a representative and receive your special offer.”

Automated marketing calls have become an everyday occurrence in recent years. An estimated 2.5 billion automated marketing calls were made each month in 2018,[1] an increase of 47% from 2017.[2] If you have a phone, you almost certainly have received automated marketing calls multiple times per month, week, or even daily.

However, there is a way to stop this nonsense, fight back, and even make some money – up to $3,000 per call or more.

Who is calling me?

Automated marketing calls are typically placed by marketers who sell goods or services or, more frequently, by lead-generation companies (i.e. corporations trying to find consumers who are interested in a home security system, health care, car loan, or another good or service that can be sold over the phone). The callers play a pre-recorded message, followed by an instruction to dial a number to be connected to an operator. The vast majority of people called will hang up (usually in frustration and anger), but a small number of people get hooked and will want to speak to the operator. Some of those will ultimately become “leads,” which the lead-generator can connect to a company that provides the service or goods advertised; the lead generator will receive money in return.

The marketers and lead-generation companies already know that 99% of the people receiving the calls are not interested in the goods or services offered… but placing the call costs virtually nothing, and the prompt to dial a number if the recipient is interested means that the potential customers are self-selecting. Of course, for this practice to function, the callers have to place millions of calls – the more, the better. The result is the current incessant amount of automated marketing calls.

 

How do I stop the calls?

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) has made unsolicited marketing calls illegal and allows the Federal Trade Commission to prosecute and fine violators. There are also laws on the State level. The companies placing the calls often go to great lengths to hide their identities to avoid lawsuits from the recipients of the calls. However, the TCPA (and some state laws) allows for private causes of action. This means that if you can find them, the callers can be sued by you under the TCPA.

These marketers and lead-generation companies usually call you because they purchased a list of phone numbers from companies that specialize in gathering data on people; or maybe you gave consent for a company to call you. As you can imagine, lead-generation companies do not want to be sued. For that reason, there is also a thriving industry that focuses on protecting marketers and lead-generators from lawsuits by removing from their call lists “serial TCPA litigators” who “abuse the TCPA” for profit. After having sued a few telemarketers, the number of automated marketing calls I receive has dropped significantly – I was likely placed on a “serial TCPA litigator” list. I now only receive one or two unsolicited marketing calls per month and can use my phone as a phone again.

You can do the same. It takes some time, patience, detective work and trips to the local courthouse, but the result can be a life free of annoying automated marketing calls. In addition, you could make some money!

 

The Law

The TCPA (47 U.S.C. § 227 et seq.), a federal law from 1991, allows consumers to sue telemarketers for unsolicited automated marketing calls. The TCPA amended the Communications Act of 1934 to restrict telephone solicitations (i.e., telemarketing) and the use of automated telephone equipment. As stated, the TCPA also provides a private cause of action for consumers. In non-legal terms, this means that the law allows everyday citizens to bring lawsuits; most laws enacted to protect consumers empower the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to go after these marketers.

Under the TCPA, anyone who places an automated marketing call to you must have your express written consent to call you. In addition, several states have passed similar laws providing private causes of action.



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