Career planning company settles TCPA class action for $2.6 million for over 10,000 unsolicited fax ads

On July 18, 2014, a New Jersey federal court approved a class action settlement of $2.6 million with Peterson’s Nelnet LLC (“Nelnet”) for its alleged violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Nelnet provides college and career planning, and it was alleged by the class that Nelnet sent over 10,000 unsolicited fax advertisements for their services and programs without prior express written consent as required by the TCPA. Nelnet stated that it decided to settle the litigation because TCPA actions often result in complex legal issues and could result in high expenses for the company. The $2.6 million settlement amount will first go toward attorneys’ fees and then the balance of the fund will be distributed and prorated on the amount that each class member would have otherwise been awarded if the amount is not enough to pay all valid claims. If any amount is left over after Nelnet has paid off all of its dues under the settlement agreement, Nelnet will receive the additional funds back. Nelnet has additionally agreed to a permanent injunction that prohibits it from sending fax solicitations in violation of the TCPA. The lesson: no matter the media, be sure your business is sending marketing messages in compliance with federal regulations to avoid large settlements like this.