Hey, How Do I Sue Telemarketers Who Ignore The Do Not Call List?

We’ve been getting a lot of emails lately from people who are fed up with telemarketers ignoring the Do Not Call list and want to take the bastards to court. Now, to be fair, sometimes the people who email don’t fully understand what is and what is not allowed under the law.

It’s important to understand that if you have a business relationship with the company, they are allowed to call you for 18 months after your last purchase, delivery, or payment. However, if you tell them to add you to their own personal “do not call list” they are supposed to stop calling, even if your number is not registered on the do not call list.

So, let’s say that you’re sure that Whatever, INC. is ignoring the Do Not Call list and they’ve called you more than once over a 12 month period.

What can you do?

Well, we’re not lawyers, and let’s face it, we don’t even watch Law & Order, so we decided to ask renowned smarty-pants consumer lawyer Sam Glover for some guidance.

He pointed us to a section of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act Of 1991 that deals with a consumer’s right to seek damages from Do Not Call scofflaws. Here it is:

(5) Private right of action

A person who has received more than one telephone call within any 12-month period by or on behalf of the same entity in violation of the regulations prescribed under this subsection may, if otherwise permitted by the laws or rules of court of a State bring in an appropriate court of that State—

(A) an action based on a violation of the regulations prescribed under this subsection to enjoin such violation,
(B) an action to recover for actual monetary loss from such a violation, or to receive up to $500 in damages for each such violation, whichever is greater, or
(C) both such actions.

It shall be an affirmative defense in any action brought under this paragraph that the defendant has established and implemented, with due care, reasonable practices and procedures to effectively prevent telephone solicitations in violation of the regulations prescribed under this subsection. If the court finds that the defendant willfully or knowingly violated the regulations prescribed under this subsection, the court may, in its discretion, increase the amount of the award to an amount equal to not more than 3 times the amount available under subparagraph (B) of this paragraph.

Sounds to us like it might be a lot of fun to file a lawsuit in small claims court if you can prove that the telemarketer contacted you more than once in 12 months. You could get your phone records from the phone company and start recording your calls.

Here’s some information about small claims court and how to use it.

Anyone tried this? Let us know what happened! tips@consumerist.com


Caveat Emptor Blog

Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 [Wikipedia]
§ 227. Restrictions on use of telephone equipment [ Cornell University Law School]
(Photo: amyadoyzie )