Telemarketing Restrictions in Washington

Washington law protects consumers from telemarketers.

By , Attorney University of Denver Sturm College of Law
Updated 6/07/2022

Washington's Telephone Consumer Protection Act, effective June 9, 2022, protects people from aggressive sales tactics and deceptive telemarketing practices by:

  • limiting what telemarketers can and can't do in the state of Washington, and
  • providing a way for consumers to avoid harassing sales calls and deal with telemarketers who violate the law.

The law, which is similar to the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), also bans unfair and deceptive telemarketing tactics. Under Washington's Telephone Consumer Protection Act, often called a "mini-TCPA law," telemarketers can't:

  • continue talking for more than 10 seconds if you say you want to end the call, or
  • contact you within one year if you say you don't want to be called again.

In addition, the law creates a private right of action. So, if you get telemarketing calls that violate this law, you may file a lawsuit against the telemarketer.

Applicability of Washington's Telephone Consumer Protection Act

Washington's Telephone Consumer Protection Act governs the "unsolicited initiation of a telephone call…for the purpose of encouraging the person to purchase property, goods, or services or soliciting donations." (Wash. Rev. Code § 80.36.390).

Because the law applies to "unsolicited telephone solicitations," the following types of calls aren't affected:

  • calls made in response to your request, including calls about an item the called party purchased within the last 12 months
  • calls from a nonprofit to its list of active members
  • calls about polling, opinions, and ideas, and
  • business-to-business calls. (Wash. Rev. Code 80.36.390).

Telemarketers Must Identify Themselves

Under this law, a person making a telephone solicitation must identify themself and the company or organization on whose behalf the solicitation is being made and the purpose of the call within the first 30 seconds of the call. (Wash. Rev. Code § 80.36.390).

If the telephone solicitor is requesting a donation or money, the solicitor must ask whether you want to continue the call, end the call, or be removed from the solicitor's telephone list. (Wash. Rev. Code § 80.36.390).

How to Get Off the Call List

If you say or indicate that you want to end the call at any time during the telephone call, the solicitor must stop the call within 10 seconds. (Wash. Rev. Code § 80.36.390).

And if, at any time during the telephone call, you say or indicate that you don't want to be called again or want to have your name, number, or other contact information removed from the call lists the solicitor uses, then the solicitor:

  • can't call you for at least one year
  • has to tell you that your information will be removed from their lists for at least one year
  • can't sell or give your name and number to another company or organization, and
  • must end the call within 10 seconds. (Wash. Rev. Code 80.36.390).

Can Telemarketers Call After 8:00 p.m.?

Telemarketing curfews limit the times that telemarketers can call potential customers. Washington law sets a telemarketing curfew of 8:00 p.m.

Specifically, telemarketers may not call you before 8:00 a.m. or after 8:00 p.m. at your local time. (Wash. Rev. Code § 80.36.390).

What to Do If a Telemarketer Violates the Law

If a telemarketer has violated any of these requirements or restrictions, you can take one or more of the following actions.

File a Complaint With the Washington Attorney General's Office

To report a violation, you can file a complaint online or through the mail with the Washington State Office of the Attorney General. You can also call 800-551-4636 (Washington Only) or 206-464-6684.

The attorney general may bring actions to enforce compliance with Washington's telemarketing laws.

File a Lawsuit Against the Telemarketer

If a caller repeatedly violates the law, you can ask a court for an injunction or damages, or both. If you win, the court will award damages of at least $100 for each individual violation. You can also get reasonable attorneys' fees and the costs of the suit.

You can use Nolo's Telemarketing Phone Call Log to keep track of telemarketer violations.

Add Yourself to the National Do-Not-Call List

Do-not-call lists protect consumers from unwanted calls from telemarketers. The Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission maintain a national do-not-call list. The registry is nationwide and applies to all telemarketers, though certain organizations, such as nonprofit organizations, are exempt. You can add your number to this database by visiting the Federal Trade Commission website.

Getting More Information

The state attorney general's office provides and maintains a web page with information about the laws and regulations governing telephone solicitation, including the legal rights of those who receive telephone solicitations. It also provides information on how you may file a complaint for legal violations. (Wash. Rev. Code, Chapter 19.158).

Talk to a Lawyer

If you want to learn more about your rights under Washington's telemarketing laws or file a suit against a telemarketer, consider talking to an attorney.

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