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Signed into law in 1991, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) is an outdated consumer protection statute restricting telemarketing calls, junk faxes and the use of automated telephone equipment.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 Plaintiffs’ lawyers are now exploiting the law’s outdated language and using conflicting federal court rulings to bring abusive and costly class action lawsuits against businesses.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

ILR Leads Business Coalition Urging FCC to Update TCPA Regs

February 03, 2015 | News and Blog

ILR and dozens of additional business groups yesterday sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission urging the agency to "update its Telephone Consumer Protection Act regulations to counter a 'tsunami' of purportedly attorney-driven class actions." Read More »

In The News Today - December 10, 2014

December 10, 2014 | News and Blog

"TCPA lawsuits are up 30 percent through September of 2014 compared to the same period last year," reports Claims Journal, highlighting the report, Lawsuit Ecosystem II: New Trends, Targets and Players, released by ILR last week. Read More »

In The News Today - December 3, 2014

December 03, 2014 | News and Blog

Twitter's attempts to have a TCPA lawsuit against the company dismissed have failed. Read More »

Lawsuit Abuse? There's an App for That

Author: Harold Kim | October 29, 2014 | News and Blog

"Block Calls Get Cash"-an Android app being marketed by Lemberg Law, a self-described consumer protection law firm. The firm says the app can help those who download it determine whether they have a claim under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), in which case they could win up to $1,500 per robodial or debt collection call. Read More »

Capital One Agrees to Largest-Ever TCPA Class Action Settlement

July 22, 2014 | News and Blog

Capital One and several other collection agencies have agreed to settle class claims that they "called individuals on their mobile devices without their consent" in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), reports BloombergBNA. The settlement, of more than $75 million, was filed July 14 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Read More »

The Juggernaut of TCPA Litigation: The Problems with Uncapped Statutory Damages

Author: Becca J. Wahlquist, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP | October 23, 2013 | Research

Companies that communicate with their customers for any legitimate reason (marketing, collections, or transactional) have been discovering in recent years that if they reach out to customers via call, text, or fax, they are at risk for being sued under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) by a plaintiff claiming that the communication was not made with his or her consent. Read More »

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