The term TCPA, or Telephone Consumer Payment Agreement, refers to a part of the federal law known as the Telephone Debt Collection Practices Act. This act was enacted by the Federal Trade Commission in 1996 and can be found at the FTC website. Part of this act is a limitation on the type of lawsuits an individual plaintiff can bring. It also requires that any fees paid to an attorney must be reported to the Office of the Ombudsman. Part of this act also requires all credit card companies and banks to work with credit card companies before sending out any payments to a debtor.
The purpose of this part of the act is to limit the number of class-action lawsuit that a plaintiff can bring against a company that engages in any sort of credit card or debit card debt collection practices. To this end, many lawsuits are filed against companies that do not abide by this part of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and are therefore routinely denied. This is why it has become important for many plaintiffs’ attorneys to understand this part of the law very well and know how to use it to their advantage.
Some of the examples of what is considered to be harassment include repeated telephone calls made to a debtor or one’s place of employment without proper notice and permission. Other examples include sending prerecorded messages on one’s voice mail system, sending a text message to a debtor, or making a series of unsolicited calls to a debtor that has come over the phone system without proper authorization. All of these types of actions constitute harassment under the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act and can all result in significant monetary damages. In order to recover these damages from a defendant who is in violation of the TCPA, a plaintiff will need to obtain consent from the defendant in order to file a suit.
If a plaintiff cannot find the defendant in violation of the act, he will need to file a complaint against the entity at fault. He can also move to compel evidence regarding the alleged violations of the TCPA through a TCPA lawsuit against a third party. While there is no limit to the entities that can be sued in this regard, most people prefer to file lawsuits against third party entities that are primarily responsible for harassing behavior. For example, a TCPA lawsuit filed against a mortgage company for posting ads on a website that allowed homeowners to apply for a free home loan would probably result in monetary damages being awarded to the homeowner. On the other hand, a TCPA lawsuit brought against a freedom mortgage corporation for encouraging homeowners to file for bankruptcy would not be able to provide the same remedy because the corporation did not violate any laws in forcing its customers to file for bankruptcy.
One aspect of TCPA lawsuit settlements that makes these types of cases unique is that individuals are sometimes allowed to take the case to trial provided that they can prove that the entity in question was acting in an unprofessional manner. To do so, an individual plaintiff will generally need to demonstrate proof that he or she suffered a tangible harm or suffered a specific injury as a result of the defendant’s conduct. Often, this requires the filing of a simple slip-and-fall complaint with the courts. A TCPA lawyer will typically file such a complaint on behalf of his client and use it as the basis for the case against the offending entity.
The crux of TCPA lawsuit settlements rests on whether the TCPA was violated by the conduct of the offending entity. If the complaint was found to have been submitted in bad faith, the plaintiff has a strong case for monetary damages. On the other hand, even if the defendant failed to violate the statute, plaintiffs may still be able to recover damages if they were put at a disadvantageous position as a result of that conduct. The important thing to remember is that it must be shown that the defendant violated the statute, or a TCPA class action lawsuit will likely fail. If it does, however, it is likely that a substantial amount of money will be recovered.