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 In growing numbers in the past few years, plaintiffs’ lawyers have exploited the law’s outdated language and conflicting federal court rulings to bring abusive and costly class action lawsuits against businesses.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

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. In the News Today - February 23, 2018

    February 23, 2018 | News

    Fears of More N.J. Plaintiffs Spur Biz Push for Legal Fixes; SCOTUS Likely Won't Review 'Case-Killer' TCPA Decision... Read More

  2. In the News Today - February 15, 2018

    February 15, 2018 | News

    Congress Urged to Adopt National Data Breach Standard; 7th Circ. Wants Extra Briefing On Fees In TCPA Cruise Deal... Read More

  3. In the News Today - February 1, 2018

    February 01, 2018 | News

    Appeals Court Upholds Structure of U.S. Consumer Bureau; Amicus Brief: TCPA Plaintiff Didn't Really Want Texts to STOP... Read More

  4. In the News Today - January 31, 2018

    January 31, 2018 | News

    Navient's RICO Case Against TCPA Law Firm to Continue... Read More

  5. In the News Today - January 23, 2018

    January 23, 2018 | News

    Clock For State Claims Stops In Federal Court, SCOTUS Says; Abuse of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act Just Keeps Getting Worse... Read More

  6. Abuse of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act Just Keeps Getting Worse

    January 22, 2018 | Blogs

    The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) was designed to protect Americans from the annoying robocalls that no one wants or asks for. But when people are using the law to get on the phone, it's clear that it's time to fix it.... Read More

  7. In the News Today - January 18, 2018

    January 18, 2018 | News

    New Book Says Multidistrict Litigation Becoming 'More and More Deplorable'; Man Concludes Six-Figure Run By Settling 31st TCPA Lawsuit... Read More

  8. Top 10 Legal Reform Blogs of 2017

    January 10, 2018 | News

    From TCPA and TPLF commentary, to trial lawyer advertising, review ILR's top ten blogs from 2017.... Read More

  9. In the News Today - December 22, 2017

    December 22, 2017 | News

    Here We Come A-Revoking: Professional Plaintiffs Target Text Messaging; Movie texting lawsuit makes top 10 'Most Ridiculous' list... Read More

  10. Time for FCC to Make the TCPA Pro-Consumer, Instead of Pro-Lawyer

    December 20, 2017 | Blogs

    As the 26th anniversary of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) approaches on Dec. 20, even the name of this landmark statute suggests it is badly in need of an update. ... Read More