Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)

Signed into law in 1991, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) is an outdated consumer protection statute restricting telemarketing calls, junk faxes and the use of automated telephone equipment. Much has changed since 1991. While the wireless marketplace and consumer use of this technology has rapidly evolved in the last twenty years, the TCPA has not. Plaintiffs’ lawyers are now exploiting the law’s outdated language and using conflicting federal court rulings to bring abusive and costly class action lawsuits against businesses. Reform is needed to clarify interpretation of the law and to protect businesses from these lawsuits. read more...



The TCPA allows consumers to sue companies for statutory damages of $500-$1,500 (depending on if the violation was willful) for each prerecorded call, specified autodialed call and unsolicited facsimile they did not consent to receive. At the time the TCPA was created, its sponsor, Senator Ernest “Fritz” Hollings (D-SC), explained the law was intended to facilitate actions in state small claims courts, which involve smaller sums and often do not require (or even allow) the participation of attorneys.

Today, however, TCPA cases are anything but small. Trial lawyers have used the law to file large class action lawsuits. The defendants in these cases are no longer just abusive telemarketers; they are businesses, big and small alike, forced to choose between settling the case or spending significant money defending an action where the alleged statutory damages may be in the millions or billions of dollars. Further, many of these companies are being sued for reasons outside of their control, such as dialing a number provided by a customer that was later reassigned to another party, or because an unaffiliated third party mentioned their products via phone call or text in an advertisement sent to consumers. One wrong call can be the basis of a class action lawsuit alleging millions of dollars in statutory damages and seeking discovery into every single call placed by that company to its customers going back four years. The risks of financial and reputational ruin strong-arms businesses into entering sometimes massive settlements even where there is no evidence of wrongdoing.

The growing trend of TCPA litigation already has caused many companies to consider discontinuing the provision of helpful information to customers, such as prescription availability, credit card fraud alerts or airline changes or cancellations.

Modernization of the TCPA is critical to resolving these issues. Businesses should not be faced with an untenable decision: whether to curtail communications with their customers because of the severe risk of class action litigation caused by the manipulation of an out-of-date statute by plaintiff attorneys.

Research

TCPA Litigation Sprawl: A Study of the Sources and Targets of Recent TCPA Lawsuits

August 31, 2017 | TCPA Litigation Sprawl is a macro-level analysis of Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) litigation that reviews all TCPA federal complaints and a segment of electronically-available state complaints from a 17-month period after the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) issued its July 2015 Omnibus Declaratory Ruling.

Engineered Liability: The Plaintiffs' Bar's Campaign to Expand Data Privacy and Security Litigation

April 19, 2017 | As data breaches are becoming more commonplace, the plaintiffs' bar is engineer a staggering expansion of liability in the areas of privacy and data security. Class action lawyers are pursuing data privacy cases and amassing fortunes even where no one has been harmed. This paper examines the data privacy and security legal landscape, plaintiffs' bar tactics, major cases and settlements, and a suggested framework for reform.

Additional Resources

All Results for Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)

In the News Today - September 25, 2017

September 25, 2017 | News and Blog

Lyft Hit With TCPA Suit Over Texts To Reassigned Numbers Read More »

In the News Today - September 13, 2017

September 13, 2017 | News and Blog

Litigation Risk Ebbs Even As Data Hacks Rise, Report Says: Law firm Bryan Cave released a report on data breach litigation, which found that data breach class actions went up by seven percent in 2016 over 2015, though the number of breaches that attracted litigation went down. Read More »

TCPA Litigation Up Nearly 50 Percent After FCC Action

September 01, 2017 | News and Blog

Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) lawsuits have surged nearly 50 percent in the 17-month period after the FCC issued a declaratory order that loosened the standards for filing such suits, according to new research by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform. Read More »

TCPA Litigation Sprawl: A Study of the Sources and Targets of Recent TCPA Lawsuits

Author: Becca Wahlquist, Snell & Wilmer LLP | August 31, 2017 | Research

TCPA Litigation Sprawl is a macro-level analysis of Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) litigation that reviews all TCPA federal complaints and a segment of electronically-available state complaints from a 17-month period after the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) issued its July 2015 Omnibus Declaratory Ruling. Read More »

In the News Today - August 24, 2017

August 24, 2017 | News and Blog

Lakers TCPA Suit Excluded Under D&O Policy, 9th Circ. Says: The 9th Circuit ruled 2-1 yesterday that the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team is not entitled to insurance coverage over class allegations that the team violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. The ruling was very divided. The majority opinion, written by U.S. Judge N. Randy Smith, said a TCPA suit is "inherently an invasion of privacy claim." In his dissent, U.S. Circuit Judge Richard C. Tallman said the plaintiff did not expressly sue for an invasion of privacy. (Law360) Read More »

Attorneys Request Millions Following TCPA Settlement

July 31, 2017 | News and Blog

Attorneys representing a group of consumers who allege that Wells Fargo violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) by autodialing their phones without consent asked a Georgia federal court to award them more than $4.45 million in fees, 30 percent of the total settlement fund, writes Law360. Read More »

In the News Today - July 14, 2017

July 14, 2017 | News and Blog

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted yesterday to adopt a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) seeking input on the possible creation of a comprehensive reassigned number database. Read More »

In the News Today - July 11, 2017

July 11, 2017 | News and Blog

A federal Court provided some much needed clarity on the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), a 25-year-old law meant to address unwanted telemarketing calls that, today, plaintiffs' lawyers love to exploit due to its potential for massive attorneys' fees. Read More »

Courts Rule Individual Cannot Unilaterally Break TCPA Contract Agreement

July 10, 2017 | News and Blog

A federal Court provided some much needed clarity on the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), a 25-year-old law meant to address unwanted telemarketing calls that, today, plaintiffs' lawyers love to exploit due to its potential for massive attorneys' fees. Read More »

Modernizing the Telephone Consumer Protection Act

July 05, 2017 | News and Blog

In an opinion piece for the Springfield News-Leader, Rep. Billy Long writes that "consumers and U.S. companies have taken the hit for far too long" as relates to abusive Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) lawsuits and it is the job of state Representatives "to ensure that consumers and businesses are treated fairly." Read More »

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