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Oklahoma Attorney General Issues Robocall Warning to Politicians

Oklahoma Attorney General Issues Robocall Warning to Politicians

Are Automated Political Calls Legal?

political robocallIt depends whether the call is to your traditional, land line telephone, or whether the call was made to your cell or mobile number.  It also depends whether it is an Automated Phone Call, and whether you have given the politician consent to contact you.

Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma Attorney General, issued a reminder to politicians and political campaigns about the rules governing telemarketing and prerecorded voice messages, or “robocalls.” In an article posted on the AG’s official website, Pruitt said, “[a]s election season gets into full gear, the frequency and volume of phone calls from campaigns to voters increases, which has led to more complaints received by the Attorney General’s Office regarding Oklahoma’s telemarketing laws.” “While state and federal laws allow political campaigns to contact voters through such methods as ‘robocalls,’ there are rules campaigns must follow. Violations of the law are taken seriously and I encourage Oklahomans to report suspected violations to the Attorney General’s Office.”

The FCC has also weighed in on what political campaigns may due to contact potential voters through Robocalls.

Does the TCPA Apply to Political Calls?

The rules differ regarding whether the pre-recorded message or auto dialed call was placed into a cell phone or a landline.  It is important note that there are no restrictions on live, manually dialed political calls, regardless whether the calls made to a cell phone or landline phone.  It is interesting to note that the national Do-Not-Call Registry does not apply to political calls. In other words, there is not Do Not Call Political Call List!

In an Enforcement Advisory, issued September 11, 2012, the FCC issued its advisory opinion to promote understanding of the restrictions imposed by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).    According to the advisory opinion, that left the calls were made with the “prior express consent of the called party,” or were made for emergency purpose, “prerecorded voice messages and autodialed calls (including autodialed live calls, prerecorded or artificial voice messages, and text messages) to cell phones and other mobile services such as paging systems are prohibited.”

However, on the other hand, a political prerecorded or auto dialed call made to a landline telephone is not prohibited, provided that the call is not made to patient rooms at a hospital or nursing home and also provided that the voice message left clearly states the identity of the business or individual responsible for initiating the call, along with the telephone number of such business.  In the context of a political campaign, the message left should clearly state a telephone number for the political candidate or his campaign headquarters.

Consumers Receiving Pre-Recorded Calls on Cell Phones Have a Legal Cause of Action Against Robocalling Politicians

If you have received at least 2 Robocalls from the same number, either a prerecorded message or a “auto dialed” call (usually identifiable by a short pause or series of clicks heard after you answer the phone but prior to anyone coming online to speak with you), you have a right of action under the TCPA.  You have statutory damages available to you between $500 and $1,500 per call. Consumers should contact Paramount Law regarding how we can help you assert your legal rights under the TCPA.

KOKH Fox News in Oklahoma City recently spoke with our Consumer Law attorney Victor Wandres regarding this issue.

What should campaign managers do to determine whether the number is a landline phone?

There are a variety of commercial services that callers may use to identify wireless telephone numbers. if campaign manager has specific questions regarding the federal TCPA rules associated using a Robocall or autodial service, they should contact the FCC Telecommunications Consumers Division Enforcement Bureau at 202-418-2712.


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