March 15th, 2013

Unsolicited text messages are a violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA); a law designed to protect consumers from incurring additional (and sometimes harsh) overage charges stemming from unwanted text messages.

TCPA violations have become prominent given the prevalence of smart phones and tablet computers. Marketers see this technology as a quick, easy (and cheap) way to inform consumers about sales and special offers. We have issued a number of reports on retailers who have been snared in TCPA violation class action suits, including Wells Fargo, Target, JPMorgan Chase, and numerous collection agencies.

However the messages (also known as “spam texts”) keep coming. The Federal Trade Commission has received nearly 20,000 complaints of unsolicited texts from consumers around the country. As such, the FTC has launched several lawsuits against third party marketers. They include individuals who created improper marketing campaigns as well as website operators that perpetuated such schemes.

In all, the FTC is suing 15 companies and individuals in eight separate lawsuits. It is seeking statutory damages of $500 for each offense committed, as well as $1500 that consumers would be eligible to be compensated for each violation. Additionally, it is seeking a restraining order to bar future messaging activities.

We find this case particularly important because many of the solicitations offered gift cards to unsuspecting retailers, including Target and Wal-Mart. In essence, these retailers could be considered TCPA victims as well, since they did not consent to be included in improper marketing practices. In the meantime, third-party retailers have been warned about marketers using their information in spam texts.

We will continue to monitor this case and provide details as they become available.

Source: TopClassActions.com, FTC cracks down on text spam with massive action, March 11, 2013

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