Telemarketing calls are disruptive and annoying. That’s why the Federal Trade Commission set up the National Do Not Call Registry. But Dish Network ignored the list in 2010 and 2011. Now a telemarketing class action lawsuit out of North Carolina has resulted in a nationwide verdict that could pay you up to $1,200.
National Do Not Call Registry Protects Consumers from Telemarketing Hassle
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) created the National Do Not Call Registry in 2003. Its purpose was to strengthen consumer protection against abusive telemarketing programs. Since 2005, telemarketers covered by the registry are required to check the registry every 31 days and remove all registered numbers from their call lists.
Originally, registration of a phone number had to be renewed every five years. A decade ago, on February 15, 2008, Congress passed the Do-Not-Call Improvement Act, allowing permanent registration unless a person calls to remove their number. In theory, this should protect consumers from the hassle of responding to telemarketing calls. However, there are some exceptions:
- Business lines cannot be registered
- Political organizations can still call registered numbers
- Non-profit organizations can still call registered numbers
- Companies can still call to conduct surveys
- Telemarketers have up to 31 days to remove registered numbers
- Bill collectors can call registered numbers, during reasonable hours under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
Holding Telemarketers Accountable for Do-Not-Call Violations
When telemarketers ignore the Do Not Call Registry, it can inconvenience consumers and create the potential for a lawsuit – filed either by the FTC or by the consumers affected directly. Since 2009, the FTC has seen a significant increase in illegal telemarketing calls, especially robocalls. The FTC says that the technology behind these calls “make it cheap and easy for scammers to make illegal calls from anywhere in the world, and to display fake caller ID information, which helps them hide from law enforcement.”
But it isn’t foolproof. Since 2003, the FTC has brought 134 enforcement actions for telemarketing violations of the Do Not Call Registry. In 2009, the FTC sued Dish Network for violating the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, and state law. That case resolved in 2017, with an order directing Dish Network to pay $280 million in penalties and creating strong injunctive relief, forcing the company to change its ways.
But that money went to the federal government, not the consumers the law was meant to protect. To make sure consumers got their due, in 2014, Thomas Krakauer of North Carolina, sued Dish Network for reimbursement due to its illegal telemarketing calls.
North Carolina Telemarketing Class Action Protects Consumers Nationwide
Krakauer’s case was certified as a nationwide class action. That meant his trial established the facts and legal basis to allow anyone “similarly situated” to receive a part of the $61,342,800.00 aggregate award. In this case, “similarly situated” means a person:
- Is a U.S. resident
- Had a telephone number on the National Do Not Call Registry
- Received one or more call on that registered number from Dish Network between May 11, 2010 and August 1, 2011
Most consumers don’t remember the telemarketing calls they got last week, let alone 8 years ago. However, discovery in the case revealed a list of 18,000 phone numbers that qualify for relief. You can check if your number was impacted. If it was, you must file a claim to be part of the class action award on or before June 18, 2018. Consumers who qualify are entitled to receive up to $1,200. This amount will be reduced by reasonable attorney fees and costs spread across all claimants.
Class Action Lawsuits Give Relief for Small Claims
Telemarketing class action lawsuits are a powerful tool to keep advertisers in check and protect consumers from harassment and annoyance. Even with triple damages authorized by the statute, no one consumer’s case is worth the time, effort, and expense to bring the lawsuit. By allowing classes of similarly situated plaintiffs to come together in a class action, the law keeps companies like Dish Network from getting away with ignoring important consumer protection laws.
Dani K. Liblang is a consumer protection attorney at The Liblang Law Firm, PC, in Birmingham, Michigan. She helps Michigan residents harassed by telemarketers and other abusive marketing practices. If you believe telemarketers have crossed the line, contact The Liblang Law Firm, PC, today for a consultation.