The phone never rings. But somehow you have a voicemail. It’s a business selling something, even though you’re on the Do Not Call list. Is that legal? Not in Florida as of July, Gov. Rick Scott signed SB 568, which expands the Do Not Call list to include direct-to-voicemail sales calls.
What is a ringless voicemail and why did the Court rule that they are TCPA calls?
Ringless voicemail technology, generally speaking, allows callers to bypass calling a person’s cell phone number directly, and instead sends messages through to the voicemail service provider’s platform and, ultimately, to the subscriber. The argument that the defendant posited in this action was that by allowing a voicemail to be delivered without ever having a person’s phone actually ring, such a form of contact could not be considered a call subject to the restrictions of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). We have previously advised clients that this argument would not likely be successful before courts or regulators. The federal court in Florida and Michigan agreed. It concluded that because the phone’s subscriber receives a notification that s/he has a voicemail message, the effect of the ringless voicemail is the same as if the phone had rang before the voicemail was delivered. As a result, the Court found that ringless voicemails are calls for TCPA purposes and that the company which placed these messages may be held liable for such conduct.
Florida Ringless Voicemail Law
Florida’s law does not mean you will never receive a ringless voicemail if you are on the Do Not Call list, however. First, some scofflaw telemarketers ignore Do Not Call for all sorts of messages. They are often based in other countries or using fake or “spoofed” numbers, and they know it’s hard to police them in an age of global calling by way of the Internet. At best they are using questionable methods to steer leads to legitimate businesses. At worst they are outright scams trying to steal money or personal information.
But there’s also this: the law allows certain calls by schools, non-profit and charitable groups, or people taking surveys. Florida law says the Do Not Call restrictions do not apply to “a charitable or political organization that is seeking donations,” according to the Senate staff analysis.
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Florida Ringless Voicemail FAQ
What is Ringless Voicemail?
Ringless voicemail is a mechanism that enables companies to deliver a message to a cell phone without a human delivering the message. Software, such as automated direct voicemail broadcasting mechanisms, are used to deliver these messages to cell phones. The messages are pre-recorded and delivered directly to a voicemail so that the recipient’s phone doesn’t ring or disturb them. Marketers use this as a tool to communicate with clients because it is an affordable way to increase interest in their products and services.
Ringless voicemail drops work by allowing a server to insert a voice message directly onto the consumer’s voicemail. It is seen as a non-intrusive message. The phone may ring, but the call is dropped and the message is left for the consumer, which means that no traditional call is ever made. The reason why ringless voicemail is classified under the TCPA is that of complaints and petitions from people who do not want to receive this type of communication, or because they feel that the communication they received wasn’t relevant to them.
How does ringless voicemail work?
In a nutshell, ringless voicemail is a technology that allows messages to be directly delivered to a consumer’s cell phone voice mailbox. The voicemail is delivered without the phone ever ringing, so the message will be waiting in their voicemail box without them being disturbed.
Real estate agents, for example, have seen much success with ringless voicemail. Instead of marketing properties haphazardly, some of them are sending a simple and short voice message asking potential clients if they are interested in selling their property.
Ringless voicemail works through software. Once you have a list of the numbers you want to contact, you enter the cell phone numbers into the software program and schedule your message. The software calls the cell phone number but it bypasses the ring and leaves the contact a voice mail.
Many of us avoid a phone call if we don’t recognize the number. People get so many phone calls nowadays that they don’t want to risk taking a call from someone who is selling something that they are not interested in buying. A large portion of people who won’t take a phone call from an unknown number is more comfortable listening to a voice message because we want to know who called it. It is for this reason that ringless voicemail is very effective.
Test message and ringless voicemail to contact your target audience can be two additional, efficient ways of communicating with your potential clients. The companies who are the most successful also use various forms of digital marketing such as email marketing, Facebook Messenger, and online blogs where potential clients can find more information. Ringless voicemail is only a small part of an arsenal of tools that can help companies increase their bottom line.
This is still a new field of marketing and there are a number of petitions and court cases that can be drawn upon for more clarity. If you want to use ringless voicemail for your business, you are advised to learn about the laws in your state and consider hiring a commercial law attorney to guide you through the process so that you don’t expose yourself to lawsuits.
Is ringless voicemail Legal?
Different states have their own laws regarding ringless voicemail. When people google ringless voicemail law 2018, they usually find information relating to the Florida ringless voicemail law. On 1 July 2018, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed into law Senate Bill 568, which explicitly sweeps ringless voicemail technology within the state’s law. This new law makes it clear that unsolicited ringless voicemails are forbidden in the state of Florida. The Senate Bill 568 amended the definition of “telephonic sales call” to include “voicemail transmissions”, which are defined as “technologies that deliver a voice message directly to a voicemail application, service, or device”.
Attorney General Maura Healey from Massachusetts, along with a number of others, are joining the fight against ringless voicemail. Companies have asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for an exemption to the robocall rules saying that their voice messages shouldn’t be considered calls. Healey and other Attorneys General said the exemption would give companies a free pass to spam phones.
If you run a call center or business that uses ringless voicemail, you should closely scrutinize your calling practices and technologies to determine whether you are operating within or outside of the law.
How do I report ringless voicemail?
Report your ringless voicemail to the TCPA Lawyers at Shamis & Gentile, P.A. When you report your ringless voicemails to Shamis & Gentile, P.A. our team of ringless voicemail Lawyers will track down the sender of the voicemail and help you recover up to $1,500 if the violation was willful or knowing.
How much can I receive per ringless voicemail violation?
You could receive up to $1,500 per ringless voicemail that you received. Report your spam text to The Text Message Lawyers. It’s as simple as 1-2-3:
- Take a screenshot of your ringless voicemail
- Send us your screenshot to 1-833-3-TEXT-ME
- Let us do our work to fight on your behalf!
There are NO fees or expenses, so call today for a free consultation or submit your claim here and we will get in contact with you immediately. We would be happy to review for you, a loved one, a friend, or anyone you suspect may have a case. Report your ringless voicemail today and we’ll see if we can help you recover $500 to $1,500 for ringless voicemail you received.
How do you Stop Ringless Voicemail?
If you are being bombarded by marketing messages, then it is good to know how to block ringless voicemail. Preventing robocallers from leaving a voicemail can be tough, but there are a few options.
There are a number of spam blockers that can be downloaded from the Play Store. The biggest problem with these spam blockers is that there is no way to automatically backup your blacklist. If you lose your phone and you haven’t backed up the list in a while (or ever), you will have to start building your blocked list from scratch.
Instead of building your list inside of the ad blocker itself, build it inside your contacts list. Create a contact called ‘blocked numbers’ and continue to add numbers to the list over time. This way, if you lose your phone or your phone breaks, you will still have a list on your sim card that can be used on your new phone or within a new ad blocker.
If you aren’t sure whether the call you received is spam or not, Google the number. Many times, you will find that the number has received a number of complaints. In this case, you can add it to your blocked list.
If you have an iPhone that runs on iOS 8 or higher, you can block it on your phone. Go the Recent Calls tab in the Phone app, tap the “i” icon at the right of the number that you want to block. If the number is in your Contacts list, open that contact’s page in the Contacts app. From the contact page for the caller or contact, scroll to the bottom of the page and tap Block This Caller.
If you have an Android phone, just tap a number in your call log and hit Block/report Spam.
What is the telephone consumer protection act (TCPA)?
The telephone consumer protection act (TCPA) of 1991 was created in response to consumer concern over telemarketing. It is a U.S. Law and it sets guidelines for companies who are engaging in telemarketing practices. The TCPA requires companies that are making telephone solicitations maintain do-not-call lists, and it places greater restrictions on the use of automated telephone equipment.
The TCPA was revised in 2013 to include clear and conspicuous disclosure for marketing text messages. The result of this revision led companies to be required to request that consumers opt in, and the opt in isn’t allowed to be a requirement to complete a purchase or other transaction with the brand. In 2014, the TCPA was revised to prohibit only those calls made without the “prior express consent of the called party.” In July 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released the text of its omnibus Declaratory Ruling and Order, which was the result of petitions of a number of trade associations and companies who sought clarifications from the TCPA of 1991. The most prominent issue was the defined scope of an “automatic telephone dialing system”. The Ruling expands the meaning of this term and subjects more type of dialing equipment and platforms to a case-by-case determination of their inclusion within the TCPA.
Despite the law being continuously updated over the years, the number of robocalls continues to skyrocket because the cost of this type of marketing is very low. Further contributing to the rise in robocalls is new software that helps disguise callers’ identities. VOIP services also enable companies to use robocallers from outside the U.S., which means they do not have to adhere to the law. The full text of the TCPA Act of 1991, which is still enforced today, can be found here.
Are there ringless voicemail lawsuits?
In July 2018, a federal judge in Michigan was the first to declare in a published dispositive opinion that a ringless voicemail message (RVM) is a “call” regulated by the TCPA. In the telephone consumer protection act lawsuit Saunders v. Dyck O’Neal, U.S. District Judge Gordon J. Quist of the U.S. District Court, Western District, Michigan, noted Congress’ broad descriptor “any” in prohibiting “any call,” and noted that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Supreme Court have generally construed the TCPA broadly in ruling that new and emerging telephone technologies are governed by the TCPA, including voicemail messages, text messages and email-initiated text messages.