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 In growing numbers in the past few years, plaintiffs’ lawyers have exploited the law’s outdated language and conflicting federal court rulings to bring abusive and costly class action lawsuits against businesses.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 - November 30, 2018

    November 30, 2018 | News

    "TCPA Lawsuits are HOW Expensive??"... Read More

  2. TCPA Lawsuits are HOW Expensive??

    November 30, 2018 | Blogs

    A new report from the TCPAland blog shows just how expensive TCPA litigation actually is.... Read More

  3. In the News Today - November 21, 2018

    November 21, 2018 | News

    "High Court Junk Fax Case Is Not Just About Junk Faxes"; Lawsuit Lender Trying Again to Recoup Money Off Invalidated Loans... Read More

  4. FCC Unveils Major TCPA Initiative

    November 21, 2018 | News

    The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced a new Telephone Consumer Protection Act-related effort to thwart the growing robocall issue yesterday, the Washington Post reports.... Read More

  5. In the News Today - November 20, 2018

    November 20, 2018 | News

    FCC Ditches Junk Fax Opt-Out Rule... Read More

  6. SCOTUS "May Upend TCPA Litigation Landscape"

    November 15, 2018 | News

    A pending decision from the U.S. Supreme Court may "change the way plaintiffs and defendants frame key issues that have fueled an explosion of litigation" under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), Law360 reports.... Read More

  7. In the News Today - October 31, 2018

    October 31, 2018 | News

    Ninth Circuit Won't Reconsider Expanded Autodialer Definition; Key SCOTUS Cy Pres Case to Begin Today... Read More

  8. In the News Today - October 29, 2018

    October 29, 2018 | News

    Industry Associations Ask FCC For New Autodialer Definition... Read More

  9. In the News Today - September 26, 2018

    September 26, 2018 | News

    Protein Bar Manufacturer Says "Professional Plaintiff" Never Ate the Bar She Sued Over; New Jersey Court Offers Competing Autodialer Definitions... Read More

  10. In the News Today - September 25, 2018

    September 25, 2018 | News

    "The TCPA is a Clunker that Doesn't Stop Robocalls"... Read More