Your cell phone jangles and buzzes. Someone is calling you! In this day of social media and texting, phones calls can seem like a rare treat. You don't recognize the number, but you answer anyway, hoping that you'll soon enjoy a conversation with a friend or family member. Instead, you find yourself listening to a recording that prompts you to push buttons to speak with an operator. Annoyed, you do exactly that. You know that if you tell a telemarketer to stop calling you, they have to remove you from their list.
Unfortunately, by pressing a button, you end up extending the call instead of ending it. You could find yourself on hold or stuck on the line with someone who keeps trying to sell you remote computer virus detection or a discounted trip on some cut-rate cruise ship. All you want is to be removed from their list, but instead you end up wasting a half hour, only to get called back the very next day. In addition to wasting your time, this company is wasting your mobile minutes and costing you money. It may be time to take further action.
The law protects consumers from certain telemarketer practices
There are laws in place that limit what telemarketers can do. One of the most effective and comprehensive consumer protection laws regarding phones is the Telephone Consumer Protection Act Of 1991. This law limits how companies can contact consumers over the phone. For example, a telemarketer can not call you before eight in the morning or after nine in the evening. In some cases, companies can contact you outside of those hours. If the call comes from a non-profit agency or doesn't contain any advertisements, telemarketers can bend or break the rules about timing.
Similarly, there are numerous restrictions placed on the use of an automatic telephone dialing system or robocalls, which include prerecorded messages or robotic response systems. The law specifically prohibits the use of prerecorded or automatic dialing system calls to cellular phones. That restriction is in place because you, the recipient, get stuck with the bill for all of those annoying calls. Even if you hang up every time, you lose a minute for each call you answer. That may not seem like much, but it adds up with time, particularly for those with pay-as-you-go or limited-minutes plans.
You have the right to ask them to stop
The law is very clear that an individual needs to provide consent for a company to contact them via automatic dialer system or robocall. Sadly, many companies do underhanded things, like including a clause in their user agreement that allows them or any company they do business with to contact you.
Although you may have gotten tricked into consenting, you can always revoke that consent. These calls, even if they are just a recorded message, must include an opt-out option. If you can't remove yourself from their call list, the company is breaking the law.
If you're flooded with robocalls and harassment by telemarketers on your cell phone, you can pursue a civil lawsuit for damages. For some people, subject to multiple daily calls without any way to stop them, filing a lawsuit is the best way to address telemarketer misbehavior.