Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)

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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 In growing numbers in the past few years, plaintiffs’ lawyers have exploited the law’s outdated language and conflicting federal court rulings to bring abusive and costly class action lawsuits against businesses.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

  • 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. In $28 Million TCPA Settlement, Lawyers get $9.3 Million and Consumers Get $38

    April 27, 2018 | News

    A proposed $28 million Telephone Consumer Protection Act settlement would award individual plaintiffs $38 while giving the attorneys $9.3 million in fees, plus an extra $600,000 for "out-of-pocket costs," Legal Newsline reports.... Read More

  2. In the News Today - April 25, 2018

    April 25, 2018 | News

    Robocall Settlement Payout Delayed Over Potential Fraud... Read More

  3. ILR Counsel: TCPA's Focus on Technology, Rather Than Conduct, has Led to "Abusive Litigation"

    April 19, 2018 | News

    Yesterday, counsel for the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform told the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee that the Telephone Consumer Protection Act's (TCPA) focus on technology, rather than bad conduct, has led to "abusive litigation" that have "devastating effects" on businesses.... Read More

  4. In the News Today - April 18, 2018

    April 18, 2018 | News

    Securities Litigation Rising for Life Sciences Companies; ILR to Testify Before Senate Committee Hearing on Robocalls... Read More

  5. ILR to Testify Before Senate Committee Hearing on Robocalls

    April 18, 2018 | News

    At perhaps no better time, counsel for the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) is testifying before the Senate Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee today on the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).... Read More

  6. In the News Today - March 26, 2018

    March 26, 2018 | News

    Report Finds ADA Lawsuit Abuse Spiked in New York in 2017; D.C. Circuit Decision Will Limit "Expansiveness" of Telephone Consumer Protection Act... Read More

  7. Court Says FCC Overreached by Expanding Telephone Consumer Protection Act

    March 19, 2018 | News

    The D.C. Circuit Friday said a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) order from 2015 was an "unreasonably expansive interpretation" of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), the Wall Street Journal reports.... Read More

  8. U.S. Chamber: D.C. Circuit Ruling a Positive Step, But Congress Should Modernize the Telephone Consumer Protection Act

    March 16, 2018 | Press Release

    Lisa A. Rickard, president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR), issued the following statement today about the D.C. Circuit Court's ruling vacating portions of the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) 2015 Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) declaratory order:... Read More

  9. In the News Today - March 16, 2018

    March 16, 2018 | News

    DC Circ. Partly Strikes Down FCC's TCPA Expansion; Op-ed: Fla. Assignment of Benefits Lawsuit Abuse "Out of Control" ... Read More

  10. In the News Today - February 28, 2018

    February 28, 2018 | News

    Plaintiffs Attorneys Want Too Much From IKEA Phone Survey Settlement, Group Claims; TCPA Filings Increased in January from December... Read More