In September, consumers filed a class action lawsuit against DirecTV LLC alleging that the company violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) when they contacted consumers’ cell phones, and in some cases left voicemails, using pre-recorded messages offering their satellite television services. Lawyers for the plaintiffs believe that at least 100,000 consumers across the country were affected by the unauthorized telephone soliciting, and they are seeking damages of up to $2,000 for each call made in violation of the TCPA. Damages under the TCPA can range from $500 to $1,500 per negligent or willful violation of the act.
New requirements were added to the TCPA.
One plaintiff, Tara Miller, is requesting up to $2,000 for each violation of the TCPA against himself and his fellow class members. DirecTV allegedly began calling Miller in May of this year, leaving messages on his phone in Spanish and asking to speak with a DirecTV customer. After Miller contacted DirecTV in June to tell them he did not have an account with them, he requested to be removed from the company’s call lists. However, Miller claims that the calls continued throughout July and incidentally caused him unnecessary telephone charges and invaded his privacy. Miller is seeking $2,000 per instance of unauthorized calling, $1,500 per willful violation, and $500 per negligent violation.
In 1991, the TCPA was enacted so individuals could file lawsuits to collect damages after they received unsolicited telemarketing calls, faxes, pre-recorded telephone calls, or autodialed telephone calls. In October of this year, new requirements were added to the TCPA: now, companies must obtain prior written consent before making a telemarketing call or text to a wireless phone using an automated dialing system or an artificial/recorded voice. In addition, companies must now obtain written consent before using an artificial voice to deliver a message to a landline.
DirecTV has faced similar cases before. In 2005, they were ordered to pay $5.3 million to the Federal Trade Commission to settle charges of violating the commission’s Telemarketing Sales Rule, and in 2010, they paid $1 million to settle allegations against them for charging hidden fees.
TCPA class action suits are up 40 to 60 percent this year, according to a report from Lexology. Similar to the allegations against DirecTV, Bank of America was alleged to have placed unauthorized calls to customers’ cell phones using automated dialing technology earlier this year. The bank proposed a settlement of $32 million to end six pending class action suits over the alleged TCPA violations.