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TCPA -- This is serious business
TCPA -- This is serious business

The TCPA  is the Telephone Consumer Protection Act that was enacted to protect consumers from unsolicited telemarketers and other types of marketers who do not have permission to contact them or who break other TCPA laws, such as:

  • Placing robocalls (using an automated dialing machine and/or pre-recorded message);
  • Sending unsolicited text messages;
  • Calling or texting people who never established a business relationship with the calling company;
  • Not providing an option to opt out of the calls/texts;
  • Calling numbers listed on the National Do Not Call Registry or on company-specific “do-not-call” lists;
  • Sending unsolicited advertisements to any fax machine — both businesses and residences — without the recipient’s prior express invitation or permission (i.e., “junk faxes”);
  • E-mail spam containing misleading or false information
  • Other TCPA violations.
  • Unless you have provided prior express consent to be contacted, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act generally prohibits the following - even if you’ve established a business relationship with the company:

    • Calls placed to residences before 8 am or after 9 pm, local time.

    • Calling consumers who specifically asked the company not to call them (companies must maintain and honor an internal “do-not-call” list for 5 years).

    • Calling consumers placed on the National Do Not Call Registry.

    • Failing to identify the person or entity on whose behalf the call is being made and providing a telephone number or address at which that person or entity may be contacted.

    • Using an artificial voice or a recorded message.

    • Using an automated dialing machine to place the call.

    • Sending unsolicited advertising faxes.

  • A robocall is any phone call made using an automatic dialing system (equipment or computer software that dials phone numbers without human intervention) or that contains a pre-recorded message or artificial voice.

    Even if a live person is on the line, the call may have been made using an auto dialer. You can often tell if you notice a period of “dead air” before the live person comes on the line.

    Robocalls have been frequently used for automated marketing, as seen in the number of companies that have been hit with lawsuits after being faced with allegations of using robocalls to promote their services, with fines of up to $16,000 per call made.

    The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which enforces the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, has interpreted robocalls to include SMS text messages, and ringless voice messages directed at cell phone voice mailboxes.

  • There are certain calls that are not subject to the rules of the TCPA. This list includes calls that are made from tax-exempt non-profit companies, political groups, calls made with a non-commercial intent, or calls that do not include any unsolicited promotion.

  • For a company to legally place a robocall, it must first have “prior express consent.” Under old TCPA rules, the FCC interpreted this to include oral approval or implied approval to receive calls, such as by providing your phone number to the company when purchasing a product or service.

    However, this “established business relationship” exemption no longer applies. The FCC’s interpretation of prior express consent now requires a signed, written agreement, specifically agreeing to receive telemarketing calls or text messages via an auto dialer and/or pre-recorded voice. This rule does not apply to debt collection calls or texts unless they contain any sort of advertisement or marketing material.

Federal Summaries