Maryland’s Mini-TCPA

TCPA: ROBO CALLS and What to do about them

Apr 18, 2024 | Blog, TCPA

Are Robo calls legal?

For non-lawyers, it may seem obvious that “robo calls” should be prohibited. Most unwanted calls, whether from humans or bots, seem to be attempts to sell us stuff we don’t want. Are these types of phone calls legal? For years, disgruntled recipients have tried to stop unwanted calls by “opting out” in several ways, or by filing lawsuits.

Telecommunications Protections Act of 1991

Since its origin in 1991, the federal Telecommunications Protections Act (TCPA) has been amended by Congress, and has been repeatedly supplemented by regulations and rulings from the Federal Communications Commission. In a game of cat-and-mouse, defendants have creatively responded to suits by private plaintiffs and by governments. Plaintiffs have likewise been creative in honing their claims. This battle has included highly technical debates including the topics listed below, and has gone to the U.S. Supreme Court more than once.

Updating Telecommunications Laws

The goal of these robocall statutes is to allow legitimate messaging while prohibiting unsolicited advertising. This is easier said than done. Because callers use constantly evolving technology, the legislatures and the courts struggle to keep up; today’s rulings may come months or years after the calls were made.

Robo callers


Several states have enacted their own “mini TCPA’s” in efforts to overcome shortfalls in the federal statute. Typically, the state statutes use broader definitions of automation to avoid highly nuanced debates over the types of technology used to initiate calls or messages. Some require the callers/senders to provide accurate identification of the caller or vendor of the product or service being promoted, or prohibit calls to numbers listed on the federal Do-Not-Call List maintained by the Federal Trade Commission.

Maryland’s Mini-TCPA

The Law Offices of Stephen H. Ring is accepting new cases under Maryland’s new, broader statute. Contact Us to discuss your potential TCPA lawsuit.

Maryland’s new law was poignantly summarized in this JD Supra article from October 5, 2023:

“Maryland’s ‘mini-TCPA’ prohibits a person from ‘making or causing a telephone solicitation, including a call made through automated dialing or recorded message’ to both cell phones and landlines without prior express written consent. This definition of auto-dialer is broader than what the federal TCPA provides . . .”

Automated Calls for Legitimate Purposes

Legitimate robo calls (and other forms of unsolicited advertising) allow recipients to opt-out of future contact. Advertisers have opposed laws that could be interpreted to outlaw legitimate calls, such as: reminders to renew an existing subscription or to show up for an appointment; responses to customer inquiries; or promotions by charities and political campaigns.

Hot topics under the TCPA (federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act) have recently included:

  • Whether a single message/call/text causes sufficient “injury” to create “standing” to sue.
    • Mostly, yes.
  • Whether repeat plaintiffs (who file a series of TCPA suits) are legitimate.
    • Mostly, yes.
  • Whether repeat offenders are held to a higher standard of knowledge or culpability.
    • Depends on facts.
  • Whether an invitation for a “free” event or product is an advertisement.
    • Depends; mostly, yes.
  • Whether a fax received by some on paper, others not, ruins class certification.
    • Unclear so far.
  • Whether prior “consent” was given; or if given, later revoked.
    • Depends on facts.
  • Whether the sender/caller used an automated device unlawfully.
    • Depends on facts.
  • Whether calls/faxes sent and/or received only via the Internet are actionable.
    • Unclear.
  • Whether a class of call recipients is sufficiently “ascertainable.”
    • Depends on facts.
  • Whether a defendant whose transmission data disappears is punishable.
    • Depends on facts.
  • Whether a valid claim can be based on a re-assigned cell phone number.
    • Depends on facts.
  • Whether calls to a number on the Do-Not-Call list are actionable.
    • Depends on facts.
  • Whether a number is for business or personal use, or both.
    • Depends on facts.

Contact Us For A Consultation

The advice of an experienced attorney can save you considerable aggravation and expense. At the Law Office of Stephen H. Ring, we will answer your questions and explain your options. We have the necessary knowledge and skill to advise clients in TCPA cases and many other areas of law. Contact our Rockville office today to schedule a consultation with experienced attorney Stephen H. Ring. If you do not reside in Maryland, we can nevertheless assist by collaborating with attorneys in your state.