Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)

  • Home >
  • Issues >
  • Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) was signed into law in 1991. At that time, cellphones resembled bricks and were often connected to a bag and lacked the ability to text message, let alone the capacity to access the Internet at 4G speeds. Fax machines were ascendant, as email did not become wide-spread until the mid-1990s. Read More...

Much has changed since 1991. But while the wireless marketplace and consumer use of this technology have rapidly evolved, the TCPA has not. In growing numbers in the past few years, plaintiffs’ lawyers have exploited the law’s outdated language and conflicting federal court rulings to bring abusive and costly class action lawsuits against businesses. Statutory reform is needed to clarify interpretation of the law and to protect businesses from these lawsuits.

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 and professional plaintiffs purchase multiple cellphones in the hopes of receiving large payouts. The defendants in these cases are no longer abusive telemarketers, as these individuals often operate off-shore and can be very difficult to find. Instead legitimate businesses, big and small alike, are sued and 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.

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 electrical outages.

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.

Suggested Resources

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

    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. Read More

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

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

    October 23, 2013

    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

Additional Resources

All Results for Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)

  1. Now Is the Time for the FCC to Revisit Outdated TCPA Regulations

    February 03, 2015 | News and Blog

    Yesterday, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Institute for Legal Reform joined more than two dozen business and consumer groups in asking the Federal Communications Commission to clarify how a law written in 1991 that is prompting a tsunami of predatory class action lawsuits should be interpreted in the 21st century.... Read More

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. Lawsuit Abuse? There's an App for That

    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

  6. 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

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

    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