Consumers Can Revoke Consent to Cell Phone Robocalls, Court Rules

Consumers Can Revoke Consent to Cell Phone Robocalls, Court RulesConsumers seem to have won a victory over “robocalls” after an appellate court ruled that individuals have the right to revoke consent to being contacted — by voice or text — on their cell phones via automated calling systems.
Reversing a lower court ruling, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia said that the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) protects consumers from receiving unwanted cell phone calls, including automated dialing systems and artificial or pre-recorded voice messages.
That protection extends beyond the law’s language, giving consumers the right to revoke previously-given consent to be contacted.
The ruling states: “Although the TCPA does not expressly grant a right of revocation to consumers who no longer wish to be contacted on their cellular phones by autodialing systems, the absence of an express statutory grant of this right does not mean that the right to revoke does not exist.”
The ruling goes on to assert that “an individual should be allowed to withdraw consent at any time if she no longer wishes to continue with a particular course of action.”
The court ruled in favor of a Pennsylvania woman, Ashley Gager, who complained that the computer giant Dell hounded her with more than 40 calls in less than three weeks to collect a delinquent debt after she had sent a letter asking the company to stop.
Circuit Judge Jane Roth said Congress intended the TCPA, enacted in 1991, to protect consumers from unwanted automated calls. That conclusion is supported by a 2012 Federal Communications Commission ruling in an unrelated case.
Gager sued Dell Financial, citing the TCPA, which allows for a minimum $500 penalty per illegal call to a cell phone. Gager financed a computer through Dell Financial Services, but became delinquent on payments after she became pregnant, was prescribed bed rest and left her job.
The original case was dismissed by the lower court, which ruled once the consumer provides consent to be called, that consent may never be revoked.
Philadelphia attorney Cary Flitter, of Flitter Lorenz, argued the appeal of “Ashley Gager v. Dell Financial Services, LLC.”
“Today’s decision is an important holding for the millions of consumers who are hounded by unwanted calls and texts to their cell phones,” Flitter said. “Everyone should have the right to control incoming cell calls and texts.”

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