Predictive and auto dialers are increasingly being put under the microscope for their lack of respecting consumers and laws governing such calls. Although these calls are helpful to industries and companies trying to contact a large amount of people right way, it has proven to breach certain rights of the consumer and is being put under intense scrutiny by the courts.
There are many laws that mandate the way in which dialer technology can be utilized including the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which prohibits powering non-emergency calls to cell phones using automatic telephone dialing systems or prerecorded voice messages unless the called party has given "prior express consent" to call the number. If not adhered to, violations range between $500 and $1500.
In a recentarticle, the Caribbean Cruise Line and the Economic Strategy Group were brought to court faced allegations that claimed that they made unsolicited calls on their cellular phones using predictive and auto dialing systems that violated the terms of the TCPA.
Additionally, in the Meyer v. Portfolio Recovery Associates case, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a statement in regards to the suit that shows it has begun to alter its strict standards saying, "Pursuant to the FCC (News - Alert) ruling, prior express consent is consent to call a particular telephone number in connection with a particular debt that is given before the call in question is placed.”
This new interpretation changed the original meaning of FCC ruling by the the court last October, which it had interpreted as "prior express consent is deemed granted only if the wireless telephone number was provided by the consumer to the creditor, and only if it was provided at the time of the transaction that resulted in the debt at issue."
Essentially, this new meaning of “prior express consent” means that businesses who use predictive and auto dialers have to show only that the consent to be called was given before the called was placed as opposed to having to prove that the number was given in connection to the specific reason it was calling.
Although it seems like the courts may be letting up, or at least the Ninth Circuit Court, companies using such these products are going to have to abide by the stringent rules that are set forth, otherwise they are surely at risk for lawsuits and fines that could result in massive amounts.
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Edited by Jamie Epstein