Business owners need to make sure their business follows all sorts of rules and regulations. When balancing so many requirements, it can be hard to know which ones really matter. If you violate the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), can it really be so bad? Afterall, a violation of this law is really just a phone call or text message. What’s the harm?
It turns out, the harm is a whole lot. The United States government takes the TCPA very seriously. It was codified into law in 1991 and gives the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) the authority to call out any business that violates its rules. These rules include calling or messaging clients or potential clients using an automatic phone dialing system without the client’s consent.
What happens when the FCC calls a business out for a TCPA violation?
If it has enough evidence to support the allegations, it will likely move forward with a lawsuit. If the court agrees, the business can face a number of different penalties, including:
- Injunction. This is essentially a requirement by the court that the business stop doing whatever it was doing that led to the allegations of the TCPA violation.
- Fine. The fine is listed as $500 per violation or the actual monetary loss, whichever is greater. This may not seem like too much, but we should stress the “per violation” portion. This can quickly add up to a huge amount.
- Treble damages. This is a fancy legal term that essentially means the court can dish out extra punishment if it finds the business intentionally violated the law. If the defendant can show the business “willfully or knowingly” violated the TCPA the court can increase the total damages to up to 3 times the amount allowed above.
It is important to note that businesses that face allegations of a violation have options. There are various defenses and additional rules that the entity bringing the case must follow. Examples can include the statute of limitations and questions on the methods used to actually contact the consumers. If any of these are violated, the case can get thrown out and the business can move along its merry way.