Background on TCPA law on computer dialed calls to cell phones

Background on TCPA law on computer dialed calls to cell phones

Background on TCPA law on computer dialed calls to cell phonesWhen I present to lawyers in Alabama and nationally on the TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act) I normally give a bit of background so it makes sense why the law is so strict against computer calls to cell phones.  So join me on this brief background journey please.

A (fax) blast from the past

Those of you who are old enough will remember this.

You come in the morning and you’re out of paper or you’re out of toner on your fax machine because you have all of these advertisements.

You have all the local places to eat, the car places, the free cruises, health insurance, etc.

The reason that these are so popular is somebody could sit there at their fax machine (or more accurately, hire a company to do it) and they can just blast out thousands and thousands of faxes every day and do it pretty cheaply, as compared to sending out 1000 direct mail pieces.

That’s what we were dealing with in the early 90s.

Computer calls…

We were also dealing with computer calls to our homes.

Also to cell phones.

“Computerized calls are the scourge of modern civilization. They wake up in the morning; they interrupt our dinner at night; they force the sick and elderly out of bed; they hound us until we want to rip the telephone right out of the wall.”~ Senator Hollings who was instrumental in the TCPA being passed.

If you’ve ever received these kinds of annoying computer-type calls and you answer when there’s no human being on the other end, then some of this will ring true with you.

He says, “These computerized calls are the scourge of modern civilization.”

It’s a pretty bold statement, but I get what he’s saying.

“They wake us up, interrupt our dinner, get us out of bed when we’re sick.” Remember, this was before Caller ID was pretty common, so if you’re sick, or you’re tied up, you go rush to the phone and it’s just a computer there.

I like what he says here: “Hound us until we want to rip the telephone right out of the wall.” I think that accurately captures what was going on. 

Why does this law mainly apply to cell phones now?

Back in the early 90s and even the early 2000s, most of the cases involving this law – and this is the TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act) – were what we called “just fax cases,” where businesses would just randomly solicit your company or your fax machine and you had not done business them, nor did you give them your fax number.

But that started to change because we all started carrying cell phones.

Cell phone cases are the most common TCPA cases.

Think about this and see if this is accurate for you.

Most offices don’t even have a fax machine.

They may have an e-fax account, or something like that, but I think lawyers may be about the only people who still that type of fax “machine” or number.

But virtually every person has a cell phone.

For a lot of us, we don’t have a home number.

We just have a cell phone.

As I was describing this a number of years back to a group, three things occurred to me that we have when we leave our house.

It’s true for man, woman, old and the young – it doesn’t matter.

We have our keys because we have to get in our car and we have to get back home; we have our wallet or purse; and we have our cell phone.

We generally say to someone as they’re leaving, “Hey, did you remember to take your cell phone?”

We don’t want to be gone somewhere without our cell phone.

If we had been in a movie theater or restaurant, we check our pockets and think, “Do I have my cell phone?”

Folks know that we have our cell phone.

For marketing purposes, for collection purposes, whether from a creditor or a debt collector, they know the best way to reach you is through your cell phone.

A lot of people I’ve spoken with do this. I know I do this.

I use my cell phone as my alarm clock.

One of the first things I do (and probably shouldn’t do) is look at my e-mail.

You go through and ask, “Which e-mails can I get rid of?”

The point is, our cell phones are such an integral part of our lives that that’s why people are now using these computer dial/robodial calls to our cell phones, because they know we have them.

That’s why the number of cases involving this law are increasing with the growing number of illegal cell phone calls (including texts) that we will discuss in future articles.

Contact Us.

If you have any questions, give us a call at 1-205-879-2447. 

We represent consumers all over Alabama.

You can also fill out a contact form and we will get in touch with you as soon as possible.

Thanks for reading, and a have a great day!

-John G. Watts


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