Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)

Signed into law in 1991, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) is an outdated consumer protection statute restricting telemarketing calls, junk faxes and the use of automated telephone equipment. Much has changed since 1991. While the wireless marketplace and consumer use of this technology has rapidly evolved in the last twenty years, the TCPA has not. Plaintiffs’ lawyers are now exploiting the law’s outdated language and using conflicting federal court rulings to bring abusive and costly class action lawsuits against businesses. Reform is needed to clarify interpretation of the law and to protect businesses from these lawsuits. read more...



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. The defendants in these cases are no longer just abusive telemarketers; they are businesses, big and small alike, 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. One wrong call can be the basis of a class action lawsuit alleging millions of dollars in statutory damages and seeking discovery into every single call placed by that company to its customers going back four years. The risks of financial and reputational ruin strong-arms businesses into entering sometimes massive settlements even where there is no evidence of wrongdoing.

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 airline changes or cancellations.

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.

Research

Engineered Liability: The Plaintiffs' Bar's Campaign to Expand Data Privacy and Security Litigation

April 19, 2017 | As data breaches are becoming more commonplace, the plaintiffs' bar is engineer a staggering expansion of liability in the areas of privacy and data security. Class action lawyers are pursuing data privacy cases and amassing fortunes even where no one has been harmed. This paper examines the data privacy and security legal landscape, plaintiffs' bar tactics, major cases and settlements, and a suggested framework for reform.

The Trial Lawyer Underground: Covertly Lobbying the Executive Branch

September 30, 2015 | This report highlights examples of the quiet and effective influence the American Association for Justice, the organization that lobbies on behalf of the plaintiffs' bar, exerts within the Executive Branch.

Additional Resources

All Results for Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)

Attorneys Request Millions Following TCPA Settlement

July 31, 2017 | News and Blog

Attorneys representing a group of consumers who allege that Wells Fargo violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) by autodialing their phones without consent asked a Georgia federal court to award them more than $4.45 million in fees, 30 percent of the total settlement fund, writes Law360. Read More »

In the News Today - July 14, 2017

July 14, 2017 | News and Blog

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted yesterday to adopt a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) seeking input on the possible creation of a comprehensive reassigned number database. Read More »

In the News Today - July 11, 2017

July 11, 2017 | News and Blog

A federal Court provided some much needed clarity on the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), a 25-year-old law meant to address unwanted telemarketing calls that, today, plaintiffs' lawyers love to exploit due to its potential for massive attorneys' fees. Read More »

Courts Rule Individual Cannot Unilaterally Break TCPA Contract Agreement

July 10, 2017 | News and Blog

A federal Court provided some much needed clarity on the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), a 25-year-old law meant to address unwanted telemarketing calls that, today, plaintiffs' lawyers love to exploit due to its potential for massive attorneys' fees. Read More »

Modernizing the Telephone Consumer Protection Act

July 05, 2017 | News and Blog

In an opinion piece for the Springfield News-Leader, Rep. Billy Long writes that "consumers and U.S. companies have taken the hit for far too long" as relates to abusive Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) lawsuits and it is the job of state Representatives "to ensure that consumers and businesses are treated fairly." Read More »

In the News Today - June 30, 2017

June 30, 2017 | News and Blog

'Significant' TCPA Ruling by 2nd Circuit: The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals handed down a decision last week which held that the Telephone Consumer Protection Act "does not permit a consumer to unilaterally revoke consent to be contacted by telephone when such consent is given as bargained-for consideration in a binding contract." Read More »

In the News Today - June 26, 2017

June 26, 2017 | News and Blog

The Second Circuit ruled last week that the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) doesn't allow consumers who consent to receiving calls as part of a contract agreement to revoke that permission. Read More »

Off the Hook Lawsuits

June 19, 2017 | News and Blog

In an opinion piece for The Hill, ILR President Lisa A. Rickard, writes about the "technologically ancient telecommunications law" known as the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Read More »

Congress Holds Hearing to Examine Abusive TCPA Lawsuits

June 13, 2017 | News and Blog

Today, the U.S. House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice held a hearing to examine the abusive lawsuit industry that has been unintentionally fueled by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Read More »

In the News Today - June 26, 2017

June 02, 2017 | News and Blog

The Second Circuit ruled last week that the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) doesn't allow consumers who consent to receiving calls as part of a contract agreement to revoke that permission. Read More »

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