Telephone Consumer Protection Act gets an update

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) is designed to protect consumers from unwanted commercial calls. The law is generally overseen by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), but both the FCC and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) receive complaints of violations of this law. In fact, according to a recent report by Forbes, the FTC receives tens of thousands of complaints under the TCPA every month.

What is the TCPA?

The TCPA makes it illegal to call an individual within the United States using an automatic telephone dialing system. This means the protections of this law apply whether the caller is based in the United States or not.

This law was originally written in 1991 and was intended to reduce the number of unsolicited calls made to land lines and "junk faxes." Although the law still works to reduce the number of telemarketing calls consumers receive regardless of the changes that have occurred over the last few decades, it was in need of an update.

What updates were made to the TCPA?

In June of 2015, proposed updates became official. The updates were designed to expand protections in a number of ways, including an extension to cover spam text messages. The changes were made in response to over two dozen petitions that requested the FCC clarify how the TCPA is enforced. Some examples of approved changes include:

  • Define autodialer. One of the largest criticisms to the TCPA is a lack of clarity. One step to help clarify this law was a clear definition of an autodialer. Based on this proposal, an autodialer was defined as "any technology with the capacity to dial random or sequential numbers."
  • Blocking technology. The FCC clarified that telephone service providers are able to provide robocall blocking technologies to their customers.
  • Revocation of consent. The agency also stated that consumers can revoke consent to receive calls and text messages from autodialers in "any reasonable way at any time."
  • Remove "reassignment" loophole. In the past, it was not uncommon for a phone number that was assigned to a new customer to "inherit" unwanted robocalls. The FCC clarified that consent from a previous number holder does not transfer to a new number holder.

These are just a few of the changes that were made. Additional changes work to solidify the protections present under the TCPA for consumers.

What should I do if I am the victim of a TCPA violation?

If you are receiving calls without your consent, you may be the victim of a TCPA violation. Victims may be eligible for civil remedies. These remedies can include monetary awards. Contact an experienced consumer law attorney to discuss your options.