The Federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) forces debt collectors and telemarketers to stop unwanted cell phone calls, text/voice messages to cell phones, and some calls to residential telephone lines.
The TCPA was passed into law in 1991. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued rules and regulations implementing the TCPA which went into effect December 20, 1992.
The TCPA was a merging of two bills in Congress, and it deals with several distinct issues:
(1) Use of automated dialing equipment and prerecorded messages.
(2) Telemarketing calls using “live” callers
(3) Facsimile (fax) transmissions.
In 2003, the FCC amended its rules under the TCPA to implement the national Do-Not-Call list. In 2005, Congress amended the TCPA to establish a new exemption to permit some additional unsolicited fax transmissions that previously were not permitted under the statute.
In general, people who have received telemarketing calls, unsolicited faxes, prerecorded calls, or autodialed calls to cellphones, may bring suit (in your local state court, including in small claims court) against the person making those calls if they violate the TCPA. The statute provides statutory damages, generally from $500 to $1500 for each violation, which are paid to the consumer.
Robocall and autodialer calls made to cellphones may also be a violation unless you gave consent to receive the call. Where an individual has previously given consent to receive calls by an auto dialer, when consent is subsequently revoked (revocation may be oral if you live in the 11th Circuit, which includes Georgia) and if such calls continue after consent is revoked, the TCPA has been violated.
The TCPA also covers texts and faxes. Under the TCPA, texts or faxes that are sent with without a recipients prior express consent are also usually illegal. Consent to receive transmissions may also be revoked, and texts or faxes post-revocation may also violate the statute.