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 Since then, technology has rapidly evolved in the wireless marketplace, leaving the TCPA very outdated.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In the past few years, plaintiffs’ lawyers have exploited the law’s outdated language to bring abusive and costly class action lawsuits against a multitude of businesses.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as work to modernize the statute in order to protect businesses from the frivolous lawsuits being filed under this outdated law.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

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Suggested Resources

Research
  • 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. In The News Today - February 17, 2015

    February 17, 2015 | News and Blog

    Entrepreneur's Jeffrey Fotta cites statistics from ILR's recent study, Lawsuit Ecosystem II: New Targets, Trends and Players, in a story warning "sales reps who hit the phones" about the growing trend of Telephone Consumer Protection Act lawsuits.... Read More

  2. In The News Today - February 6, 2015

    February 06, 2015 | News and Blog

    Quoting ILR's recent blog post on the matter, Walter Olson notes the irony of the American Association for Justice being sued under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) while it simultaneously encourages similar lawsuits against businesses, and opposes updating of the outdated law.... Read More

  3. The Trial Lawyer Lobby Discovers a Frivolous Lawsuit

    February 04, 2015 | News and Blog

    What's good for the plaintiffs' lawyers' newest golden egg ... apparently isn't good enough for its national lobbying organization. ... Read More

  4. Reuters Highlights the Need to Revisit TCPA Regulations

    February 04, 2015 | News and Blog

    As we reported yesterday, the Institute for Legal Reform has collaborated with dozens of business groups in writing a letter to the FCC, urging them to revisit outdated TCPA regulations.... Read More

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. 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

  10. 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