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 Since then, technology has rapidly evolved in the wireless marketplace, leaving the TCPA very outdated.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In the past few years, plaintiffs’ lawyers have exploited the law’s outdated language to bring abusive and costly class action lawsuits against a multitude of businesses.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as work to modernize the statute in order to protect businesses from the frivolous lawsuits being filed under this outdated law.

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 - September 24, 2018

    September 24, 2018 | News

    Ninth Circuit Decision "Heats Up TCPA Debate"; West Virginia Chief Justice Says Impeachment Process Must be Halted... Read More

  2. Ninth Circuit "Departs" From Other Rulings, Takes Expansive View of Autodialers

    September 21, 2018 | News

    A Ninth Circuit Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) decision yesterday broadened the definition of "automatic telephone dialing system" (ATDS) despite recent rulings that reined it in, The Recorder reports.... Read More

  3. Did the Telephone Consumer Protection Act Just Get Even Worse for Small Businesses?

    September 17, 2018 | Blogs

    Though it may have started as a well-intentioned law from 1991, we now know how plaintiffs' lawyers and professional plaintiffs have twisted the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) for financial gain... Read More

  4. Judge Cuts "Grossly Excessive" Attorneys' Fees

    September 13, 2018 | News

    A federal judge in Chicago cut an attorneys' fee request in a Telephone Consumer Protection Act settlement from 35 percent down to five percent because of the plaintiffs' attorney's behavior, the Cook County Record reports.... Read More

  5. In the News Today - August 29, 2018

    August 29, 2018 | News

    Healthcare Group Asks for TCPA Clarity; Recent Decision Adds to "Growing Consensus" on False Claims Act Test... Read More

  6. Law Professor: Potential "Ethics Violation" In TCPA Lawsuit Filed on Behalf of Man Who Passed Away

    August 16, 2018 | News

    A University of Virginia Law professor said a Telephone Consumer Protection Act lawsuit on behalf of a man who passed away last March "would be an ethics violation" if the lawyers knew the client had died before filing the suit, Legal Newsline reports in Forbes.... Read More

  7. In the News Today - July 30, 2018

    July 30, 2018 | News

    7th Circ. Cuts Attorneys' Fees in TCPA Case; ILR's Kim Discusses DOJ's New Policies on FCPA Flash Podcast... Read More

  8. In the News Today - July 24, 2018

    July 24, 2018 | News

    TCPA the "Poster Child for Abusive Class Action Litigation," Says ILR's Kim; Top Privacy Developments Of 2018, Part 1... Read More

  9. In the News Today - June 6, 2018

    June 06, 2018 | News

    Showtime's "Billions" Outlines Lucrative Work of Running an Asbestos Bankruptcy Trusts; Man Loses TCPA Lawsuit after Filing 83 of Them... Read More

  10. In the News Today - May 23, 2018

    May 23, 2018 | News

    NCAA Settlement Class Member Fighting High Attorneys' Fees; Sirius XM Says 'Same Lawyers' are Bringing 'Same Suit,' Ask Judge to Dismiss TCPA Class Action... Read More