The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) is a law that protects the consumers’ privacy rights, and it’s important to avoid TCPA violations that may lead to a costly lawsuit.
It prohibits unsolicited calls, text messages and faxes, made from auto-dialer devices or using pre-recorded messages.
Today, TCPA violation lawsuits are one of the most common cases in federal courts. They levy hefty penalties/statutory damages and companies can lose millions of dollars in the process. However, with strict monitoring and regulations in place, companies can easily avoid a costly lawsuit.
What the Law Says
When the law was passed in 1991, a majority of the American population had landlines. The gradual popularity of mobile phones gave telemarketers an opportunity to launch advertising campaigns. This resulted in a rise of TCPA violations and almost 5,000 TCPA lawsuits were filed in 2016.
There have been two major revisions. In 2013, the TCPA made it mandatory to obtain written prior consent for autodialed, pre-recorded calls and texts to a mobile phone (or landline). It was also mandatory for companies to comply with the following:
- Companies (using ATDS or pre-recorded message) must identify themselves at the beginning of the message/call.
- They must also provide a telephone number for customers to contact (which cannot cost a caller more than the local or long-distance call charges).
- Companies must also necessarily provide an option to make a do-not-call request.
In 2015, the second major revision came in response to petitions and requests for clarity on the interpretation of the law by FCC. Consequently, the TCPA Declaratory Ruling and Order was released. It clearly defines what constitutes terms such as automated telephone dialing system and revoking prior express consent, among other clarifications.