Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)

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The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) was signed into law in 1991 to curb the increase in unregulated and harassing telemarketing calls and faxes. The TCPA also restricted the use of auto dialers and pre-recorded voice messages, and required customer consent. However, in 1991 cellphones resembled bricks, and lacked most modern abilities including text messaging. Since then, technology has rapidly evolved in the wireless marketplace, leaving the TCPA very outdated. Read More...

In the past few years, plaintiffs’ lawyers have exploited the law’s outdated language to bring abusive and costly class action lawsuits against a multitude of businesses. Rather than going after bad actor spammers and scam artists, the trial bar instead sues legitimate businesses and forces them to defend themselves in actions where the alleged aggregate statutory damages may be in the billions of dollars (and a sizeable fee award going to the plaintiffs’ lawyer). Further, many of these companies are sued for reasons outside of their control, such as a third party mentioning their products via a phone call or a text message advertisement.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently ordered the creation of a comprehensive reassigned phone number database that will enable companies to verify whether a phone number has been permanently disconnected and is eligible to be reassigned. It also wisely states that the caller is not liable if there is a database error, such as the omission of a disconnected number. This prevents plaintiff lawyers from filing frivolous lawsuits that hurt American businesses at no fault of their own.

While the reassigned number database is an important step in the right direction, additional work still needs to be done. The Institute for Legal Reform is continuing to call on Congress and the FCC to clarify the TCPA and specify what equipment and practices fall within the law’s scope as well as work to modernize the statute in order to protect businesses from the frivolous lawsuits being filed under this outdated law.

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. FCC Proposals Would Be 'A Boon for Enterprising Plaintiffs' Lawyers'

    May 29, 2015 | News and Blog

    The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will soon rule on twenty pending petitions to clarify the enforcement of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).... Read More

  2. U.S. Chamber: FCC's Telephone Consumer Protection Act Proposals Would Worsen Abusive Litigation

    May 28, 2015 | Press Release

    ... Read More

  3. In the News Today - May 28, 2015

    May 28, 2015 | News and Blog

    The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will soon vote on proposals compelling telephone companies to offer "robocall-blocking tools," and requiring consumers' consent to receive automated calls as well an easy opt-out under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). (Reuters)... Read More

  4. In the News Today - May 19, 2015

    May 19, 2015 | News and Blog

    The U.S. Supreme Court will weigh in on whether businesses sued under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) can settle with individual plaintiffs in a decision that could curtail booming class action dockets. (Law360)... Read More

  5. The ILR Research Review - Spring 2015

    May 18, 2015 | Research

    This edition of the ILR Research Review offers valuable insights from the latest of ILR's research on enforcement slush funds, Canadian class actions, emerging litigation trends and theories from the plaintiffs' bar, and recent state tort law rulings.... Read More

  6. In the News Today - May 5, 2015

    May 05, 2015 | News and Blog

    A backlog at the Securities and Exchange Commission has delayed payments or decisions to roughly 83% of tipsters in its highly publicized "whistleblower" program, according to information obtained by the Wall Street Journal. (Wall Street Journal)... Read More

  7. American Energy Companies Latest Victims of TCPA Lawsuit Abuse

    April 27, 2015 | News and Blog

    Specious litigation abusing the TCPA is having a chilling effect on companies seeking to communicate with their own customers.... Read More

  8. Scaling the 'Mountain' of TCPA Lawsuit Abuse

    April 08, 2015 | News and Blog

    Should companies have to climb a legal mountain just to talk to their customers?... Read More

  9. In the News Today - March 31, 2015

    March 31, 2015 | News and Blog

    Law Times reports on the joint ILR-Canada Chamber report, released last week, which shows "'a tide' of class action lawsuits is a major concern for Canadian business." (LawTimes)... Read More

  10. In the News Today - March 12, 2015

    March 12, 2015 | News and Blog

    BP says the Fifth Circuit should not consolidate two separate Deepwater Horizon appeals into one proceeding. The appeals are "extremely poor candidates" for consolidation because they concern events either leading up to the spill or subsequent to it. (Law360)... Read More