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 Since then, technology has rapidly evolved in the wireless marketplace, leaving the TCPA very outdated.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In the past few years, plaintiffs’ lawyers have exploited the law’s outdated language to bring abusive and costly class action lawsuits against a multitude of businesses.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) is implementing 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 will help prevent 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well as work to modernize the statute in order to protect businesses from the frivolous lawsuits being filed under this outdated law. Exacerbating this problem are the multiple conflicting court decisions about what falls within the purview of the TCPA and the types of equipment that callers may or may not use.


Suggested Resources

  • ILR Briefly COVID-19 Series: Federal Liability Problems and Solutions

    ILR Briefly COVID-19 Series: Federal Liability Problems and Solutions

    May 07, 2020

    As the public health and economic consequences of COVID-19 continue to mount, plaintiffs' lawyers are looking for ways to expand upon their legal theories and bring opportunistic litigation. This edition of ILR Briefly explores four projected hot spots of COVID-19 litigation: exposure liability, product liability, medical malpractice, and securities litigation. The paper goes on to recommend targeted federal legislative and administrative solutions to combat abusive lawsuits in these areas and protect the economic recovery. Read More

  • 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

All Results for Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)

  1. "Significant Chance" Upcoming SCOTUS Decision on TCPA May Change Litigation Landscape

    January 16, 2020 | News

    Lawyers and legal experts told Law360 that an upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case on the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) may change the law "as we know it."... Read More

  2. In the News Today - January 15, 2020

    January 15, 2020 | News

    Ben & Jerry's Says Happy Cow Lawsuit Should Be Dismissed; Professional TCPA Plaintiff Faces Racketeering Lawsuit... Read More

  3. In the News Today - November 21, 2019

    November 21, 2019 | News

    Business Groups Say Ninth Circuit's Autodialer Definition Is Too Broad... Read More

  4. New Robocall Case Gives SCOTUS Another Chance to Define Autodialer

    October 28, 2019 | News

    A robocall lawsuit involving Facebook will give the U.S. Supreme Court another chance to define "autodialer," Bloomberg Law reports.... Read More

  5. Attorneys Say TCPA Litigation Has Skyrocketed

    September 24, 2019 | News

    In a Bloomberg Law Insight piece, two attorneys with the Eckert Seamans law firm say the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) "has enjoyed remarkable popularity, at least among the plaintiffs bar."... Read More

  6. 11th Circ. Says One Text Doesn't Equate to TCPA Harm

    August 29, 2019 | News

    Yesterday, the Eleventh Circuit said a single unsolicited text does not generate the necessary harm to bring lawsuits under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), Law360 reports.... Read More

  7. "We Still Don't Know" What Can And Can't Be Used, Says TCPA Lawyer

    June 10, 2019 | News

    Though the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently gave companies expanded power to block unwanted calls, the lack of clarity on what does and does not constitute an illegal autodialer makes compliance difficult, The Wall Street Journal reports.... Read More

  8. Attorneys Ask If California's New Privacy Law Will Become "The New TCPA"

    May 29, 2019 | News

    Attorneys with the Squire Patton Boggs law firm say the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) "is likely to create a wave of litigation and class action" similar to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).... Read More

  9. FCC Commissioner: TCPA Litigation a "Mess"

    May 17, 2019 | News

    Commissioner Michael O'Rielly of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said yesterday that class action litigation around the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) is a "mess" and a "spider web."... Read More

  10. In the News Today - April 22, 2019

    April 22, 2019 | News

    "TCPA Questions Loom As 11th Circ. Considers 3 Cases... Read More