What Is The Sekure TCPA Settlement All About?
A class action was filed against Sekure Merchant Solutions, a credit card processing company, for allegedly placing unsolicited telemarketing calls to consumers.
According to the class action lawsuit, Sekure violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).
Sekure Merchant Solutions has been in business since 2006, serving over 25,000 businesses, with headquarters in Montreal.
The credit card processing company works with multiple processors for in-person and online services.
The Sekure TCPA class action settlement reveals that plaintiff Michael Kaiser Nyman listed his phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry to opt-out from receiving unwanted telemarketing phone calls.
However, the plaintiff reportedly received “high-pressured sales pitch” phone calls from Sekure without his consent, nor did he have did any business with the company, let alone provide his contact information.
Class Members complained that the phone calls were frustrating and obnoxious, with statements from reps such as “rates would go up” and “enjoy the overcharges.”
The complaint also stressed out that consumers were harmed in such a way that they experienced temporary deprivation of the legitimate use of their phones.
Consumers also complained of being charged for the calls and getting their privacy invaded because of the unsolicited phone calls.
Sekure settled the class-action lawsuit with a $6.25 million settlement fund and an agreement to comply with TCPA rules.
Settlement Class Members are expected to receive a pro-rata share of the net settlement fund, which is estimated to be around $30 per claim. However, this will depend on the number of valid claims.
Class Members objecting to or excluding themselves from the Sekure TCPA Settlement were given time until November 30, 2018.
What Is A TCPA Settlement?
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act or TCPA is a federal statute of the United States government that was enacted in 1991 to protect consumers from unsolicited telephone marketing calls, often through autodials and/or robocalls. A lot of these violations lead to multimillion-dollar class action settlements.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) receives 250,000 complaints per month on average involving TCPA violations.
Lawsuits have increased over time. Between 2014 and 2015 alone, there was a 45 percent increase in TCPA class action lawsuits and settlements.
One of the reasons for the increase is because public awareness about the TCPA boosted. The Act also has been amended, expanded, and strengthened, which led to exponentially larger and more frequent TCPA settlements over the years.
The consumer protection Act TCPA is a strict liability statute that includes accidental or unintentional violations and can result in damages ranging from $500-$1500 per call or violation.
This is why a lot of companies choose to settle class actions that are filed against them for allegedly violating the provisions of the Act.
TCPA settlements are much less costly alternatives to settling and ending a case than waiting for class action verdicts.
Do You Know Your Legal Rights And Options?
When you become affected by a lawsuit, whether it is a private or class action, you are given certain choices and actions that you are allowed to take when the lawsuit has either reached a verdict or a settlement.
Here are your legal rights and options when you become a Class Member in a class action settlement:
- Submit a claim form: A debt relief or cash award can only be claimed when class members submit a claim form. Failing to do so will deny the settlement class member of their right to receive a settlement payment. However, once a class member has submitted a claim, they automatically give up their rights to sue the defendant for claims in the litigation.
- Exclude one’s self or “opt-out” of the settlement: Excluding oneself from the class settlement means that a class member will no longer be included in whatever settlement benefits a settlement class member is entitled to. However, they will be able to keep their rights to sue the defendant for claims in the case.
- Object to the settlement: Class members are given the right to write to the court regarding their thoughts on why the settlement is unfair. Filing a valid and timely objection does not invalidate their right to submit a valid claim form to receive payment.
- Go to a hearing: Class members are also given the right to appear in court and speak about the settlement’s fairness.
- Do nothing: Class members are given an option to do nothing and not participate in the class action. It should be understood, however, that doing nothing equates to giving up their rights to sue the defendant, as well as give up their chances to get any kind of debt relief or payment.
Legitimacy of TCPA Settlements: The Sekure Merchant Solutions and Cavalry Portfolio Services Cases
Any business that has telephone or cell phone calls as part of their business operations, whether for solicitations, debt collection, marketing, and even non-marketing purposes, are at risk of violating the TCPA.
Even a legitimate business with legitimate operations can still find themselves in a bind when they don’t follow the provisions set in the TCPA.
Sekure Merchant Solutions, for example, faced the lawsuit and had to settle with $6.25 million dollars in settlement fund for calling a consumer listed in the National Do Not Call Registry and others who joined the class allegedly because they did not give their prior express consent to receive phone calls of any kind from the company.
Another similar case involved the company Cavalry Portfolio Services (CPS) who had to settle the TCPA class action with a cash fund of up to $6.15 million in value and a debt relief fund amounting to $18 million in value.
The plaintiff filed the class action for allegedly receiving a call from CPS on the cell phone using automatic telephone dialing systems, the Aspect Ensemble Pro system, or the Avaya Proactive Contact 5.0 system, without consent for purposes of collecting a debt.
CPS admitted to being aware of the law’s restrictions yet continued to have the calls made in the interest of attempting to collect on debts.
In both cases, the TCPA settlements were legitimate because there are clear violations of the law’s regulations.
Sekure Merchant Solutions placed calls to consumers listed on the National Do Not Call Registry list while CPS conducted phone calls using an automatic telephone dialing system. Both were done without the prior express consent of the consumers.
Under the law’s regulations, prior express consent requires a written agreement that the consumer signs and that includes their telephone numbers, among other things, and that specifically gives a company the authority to telemarket using an automatic telephone dialing system or with artificial or prerecorded voice.
Currently, the TCPA restricts the following calls and communication to consumers:
- Phone calls to residential and cellular telephone numbers with artificial or prerecorded voice or that are considered as “robocalls” (a type of call using an automatic telephone dialing system), including calls that go straight to voicemail
- Phone calls to numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry list or on internal “do-not-call” list of specific companies
- Unwanted text messages
- Advertisements faxes to both businesses or residences that are unsolicited and without the prior express consent
The Act was intended to prevent the invasion of privacy of consumers by companies and engaging in unwanted and unsolicited telemarketing activities.
However, there are certain text messages and phone calls that are exempted from the restrictions set by the Act, which includes:
- Voice or text messages sent by financial institutions to consumers that contain time-sensitive financial issues regarding the consumer’s account provided that there is no form of marketing in such messages.
- Non-marketing messages sent by utility companies that discuss emergencies and notify consumers of shut-offs and services.
- Messages from schools that inform consumers of emergencies, absences, and school closures.
- Messages from non-profits, although there are no blanket exemptions specifically for non-profits.
- Text messages from local governments to people within their area of authority that inform or warn.
- Emergency messages
First Choice Payment Solutions GP d/b/a Sekure Merchant Solutions TCPA Settlement Claim
The Sekure TCPA settlement claim includes consumers’ unsolicited telemarketing phone calls from Sekure Merchant Solutions on their cell phone between July 26, 2013, and February 1, 2018.
To file a claim form, class members were required to provide a claim number or a phone number that they can get from the postcard notice that was sent to their mail.
The 11-digit claim ID number is found on the front of the notice after the “FKA.”
For more information, you may contact the claims administrator for the case, Kurtzman Carson Consultants c/o KCC Class Action Services LLC.
Editor’s Note on Sekure TCPA Class Action Settlement:
This settlement article was requested by one of our subscribers. It’s an old settlement case concerning Sekure Merchant Solutions and its alleged violations of TCPA.
Case Name: Michael Kaiser-Nyman v. First Choice Payment Solutions GP d/b/a Sekure Merchant Solutions, Case No. 1:17-cv-05472, N.D. Ill.
Settlement Website: www.SekureTCPASettlement.com
Jurisdiction: U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division
Allegations: The company allegedly violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”)
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