Are you sick of receiving unwanted text messages on your cellphone? Do unsolicited robocalls drive you mad? If so, you’re about to get a major reprieve: A change to the Telecommunications Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) goes into effect today, prohibiting businesses from making robocalls and sending SMS texts to you without your “prior express written consent.”
If a business currently sends you text messages – perhaps to notify you about sales or scheduled appointments – you’ll likely need to re-confirm that you’d like to continue receiving them. This is because TCPA does not make exemptions for “past business relationships.” For someone to send you an advertising text, they must have your unambiguous written consent or face penalties. Period.
And indeed, the penalties for businesses that violate the TCPA are severe. Anyone who knowingly breaks the law can be subject to paying damages of between $500 and $1,500 per call or text sent. Since texts can be sent to hundreds, thousands or millions of recipients with a press of a button, penalties are severe enough to guarantee compliance from reputable businesses.
There are a few exceptions to the new rules. Automated calls and texts from your cellular provider are exempt from the law, and so too are debt collectors, the government and messages pertaining to your health care.
If you continue to receive telemarketing robocalls or SMS texts after October 16, 2013 from a business you did not give permission to, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit to seek damages. For more advice on how to do so, you should contact a lawyer in your state. And if you'd like to stem the tide of junk mail and e-mails, check out these tips for stopping direct marketers from bothering you.