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 Since then, technology has rapidly evolved in the wireless marketplace, leaving the TCPA very outdated.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In the past few years, plaintiffs’ lawyers have exploited the law’s outdated language to bring abusive and costly class action lawsuits against a multitude of businesses.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well as work to modernize the statute in order to protect businesses from the frivolous lawsuits being filed under this outdated law.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. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. Attorneys: Unclear TCPA regulations lead to windfall for class action plaintiffs' counsel

    March 05, 2015 | News and Blog

    Christopher M. Cascino and Jennifer A. Riley, both of Seyfarth Shaw LLP, write in Lexology of the severe penalties and windfall awards currently being handed out in Telephone Consumer Protection Act litigation.... Read More

  8. In The News Today - March 3, 2015

    March 03, 2015 | News and Blog

    After agreeing to a $2.6 billion settlement with the federal government just last week, Morgan Stanley says it now expects to be sued by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman over subprime mortgage bonds. (Boston Herald)... Read More

  9. In The News Today - February 24, 2015

    February 24, 2015 | News and Blog

    Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller met with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Monday to oppose a recent attempt by industry groups to reform the key Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).... Read More

  10. In The News Today - February 20, 2015

    February 20, 2015 | News and Blog

    Investment firm Gray Financial Group Inc. has lodged a suit against the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in the latest of a wave of challenges against the body's use of administrative courts. ... Read More