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Signed into law in 1991, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) is an outdated consumer protection statute restricting telemarketing calls, junk faxes and the use of automated telephone equipment.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 Plaintiffs’ lawyers are now exploiting the law’s outdated language and using conflicting federal court rulings to bring abusive and costly class action lawsuits against businesses.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.


ILR Research Review - Fall 2017

November 30, 2017 | This special double-issue of the ILR Research Review features a wealth of insight and analysis on the world's rapidly changing litigation environment. The research contained in this issue targets exploitative litigation at home and abroad, examining numerous developments ranging from hyper-aggressive trial lawyer advertising in the U.S. to the imminent expansion of class actions in Europe.

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.

Additional Resources

All Results for Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)

In the News Today - February 15, 2018

February 15, 2018 | News and Blog

Congress Urged to Adopt National Data Breach Standard; 7th Circ. Wants Extra Briefing On Fees In TCPA Cruise Deal Read More »

In the News Today - February 1, 2018

February 01, 2018 | News and Blog

Appeals Court Upholds Structure of U.S. Consumer Bureau; Amicus Brief: TCPA Plaintiff Didn't Really Want Texts to STOP Read More »

In the News Today - January 31, 2018

January 31, 2018 | News and Blog

Navient's RICO Case Against TCPA Law Firm to Continue Read More »

In the News Today - January 23, 2018

January 23, 2018 | News and Blog

Clock For State Claims Stops In Federal Court, SCOTUS Says; Abuse of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act Just Keeps Getting Worse Read More »

Abuse of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act Just Keeps Getting Worse

January 22, 2018 | News and Blog

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) was designed to protect Americans from the annoying robocalls that no one wants or asks for. But when people are using the law to get on the phone, it's clear that it's time to fix it. Read More »

In the News Today - January 18, 2018

January 18, 2018 | News and Blog

New Book Says Multidistrict Litigation Becoming 'More and More Deplorable'; Man Concludes Six-Figure Run By Settling 31st TCPA Lawsuit Read More »

Top 10 Legal Reform Blogs of 2017

January 10, 2018 | News and Blog

From TCPA and TPLF commentary, to trial lawyer advertising, review ILR's top ten blogs from 2017. Read More »

In the News Today - December 22, 2017

December 22, 2017 | News and Blog

Here We Come A-Revoking: Professional Plaintiffs Target Text Messaging; Movie texting lawsuit makes top 10 'Most Ridiculous' list Read More »

Time for FCC to Make the TCPA Pro-Consumer, Instead of Pro-Lawyer

December 20, 2017 | News and Blog

As the 26th anniversary of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) approaches on Dec. 20, even the name of this landmark statute suggests it is badly in need of an update. Read More »

Insurers, Particularly Start-Ups, At Risk Under "Expanding TCPA Scope"

December 07, 2017 | News and Blog

Insurers, particularly start-up agencies "who need to do everything they can to attract customers," are at greater risk of being sued under the "expanding TCPA scope," writes Insurance News Net. Read More »

  • bulletClick to Narrow Your Results
  • 2017 Legal Reform Summit Recap