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What Is the Telephone Consumer Protection Act?

If your afternoons are not being disrupted by banks offering loans and telecom companies insisting you invest in a new plan, it is because of the protection offered to you by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

The TCPA restricts all kinds of bogus telemarketing communications, via calls, SMS or even fax.

Under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, all telephone solicitation and the use of an automated phone dialing system is restricted, preventing the harassment of consumers who have not consented, through pre-recorded messages, automatic dialing, SMS and fax.

No company is allowed to violate the consent of consumers who subscribe to the National Do Not Call Registry. Companies that are found in violation of the Act are liable to monetary punishment.

Origins and Summary of the Act

The TCPA became a law in the year 1991 after the Communications Act of 1934 was amended. It was put in place after an increase in unsolicited telemarketing calls, messages and faxes.

Once the TCPA was passed, the Federal Communications Commission introduced regulations that shaped the Do Not Call Registry. To begin with, every company and organization was expected to maintain their own directory of consumers who had ticked the ‘Do Not Call’ option.

These individual databases eventually gave way to the National Do Not Call Registry in 2003. Maintained by the Federal Trade Commission, the Do Not Call Registry is open to both cell phone and landline users.

The portal accepts registrations at donotcall.gov.

What Does the Telephone Consumer Protection Act Protect?

The Act has been put in place to protect the consent of all consumers on the Do Not Call Registry. FCC regulations are entitled to impose financial penalties or fines on commercial organizations and telemarketers for calling phone numbers on the Do Not Call directory.

For the numbers that are not registered on the directory, the FCC regulations allow for only a certain number of abandoned calls. The Commission also demands telemarketers to transmit caller identity details.

How to Identify Auto Dialer Calls

If you have been receiving over four calls or voicemails on a single day from the same number, the telemarketer is using an auto dialing service. Similarly, if you receive a call and only hear a recorded message, it’s a robocall, meaning one that has not been made manually. A call where no one speaks on the other end is also a sign of a robocall.