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Cell phones & the law

If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of cell phone text spam, you know how irritating and frustrating it can be. Sometimes, even when you text back “STOP” to the company spamming you, they still do not stop.

Now, a California attorney has brought a class action suit after becoming victim to an insurance company. Todd Friedman, a consumer protection attorney, filed the suit alleging that EverQuote, Inc., doing business as CheaperAutoCoverage.com, “negligently and knowingly” contacted him on his cell phone, which is in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act restricts phone solicitations such as telemarketing, and the use of automated telephone equipment. In particular, the law limits the use of:

  • Automatic dialing systems
  • Artificial or pre-recorded voice messages
  • SMS text messages; and
  • Fax machines

There are also several technical requirements for auto-dialers, voice messaging systems and fax machines. These include provisions requiring that the company identify itself and provide contact information within the message sent to you, the consumer.

The law also permits any person or entity to bring legal action for violations of the law and to recover actual damages, or statutory damages ranging from $500 to $1500 per violation.

The law, which is there to protect consumers from such intrusions, makes it unlawful “to initiate any telephone call to any residential line using a pre-recorded voice or artificial voice to deliver a message without the prior express consent of the called party”. The only exceptions are for emergencies or in circumstances exempted by the FCC.

Friedman filed suit against the insurance company after he first responded to the unsolicited text with the word “STOP”. He says he doesn’t know how many complainants are members of the proposed class action, but estimates it to be in the tens of thousands, if not more.

If you’ve been receiving unwanted calls or text messages and would like to speak with an attorney, please consult our Online Legal Directory to find a lawyer in your area.

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