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The industry's only current and comprehensive online guide to TCPA compliance.

Telephone Consumer Protection Act

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) was passed in 1991. The FCC TCPA rules and regulations implementing the Act went into effect on December 20, 1992 and have been updated periodically since then. Learn more about the TCPA below and why TCPA compliance is so important to understand.

** New Declaratory Ruling and Order released July 10, 2015

UPDATE: On March 16, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit released its decision in the ACA Int’l vs. FCC case.

The court’s decision set aside the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) broad definition of an automatic telephone dialing system (ATDS). While it was clear that the FCC’s expansive interpretation of an ATDS cannot stand, the court did not clarify what the standard should be.

The court also determined that the FCC’s ruling on reassigned telephone numbers in 2015 be thrown out in its entirety. The court found that the FCC’s one-call safe harbor was arbitrary and capricious. The court acknowledged that the FCC is “already planning a regime to avoid the problems of the 2015 ruling’s one-call safe harbor”.

For a more detailed assessment from one of the Regulatory Guide’s authors, click here.

Or feel free to contact us if you have a specific question.

Main requirements imposed by the TCPA include the following:

• Limit the calls to the period between 8 AM and 9 PM.
• Maintain an internal, company specific DNC list and honor a consumer’s request not to be called again.
• Have a clearly written DNC policy, available to anyone upon request.
• Have a clearly defined training program for personnel making the telephone solicitations.
• Disclose a telephone number or address where the seller may be contacted.

When a DNC request is received, the requester may not be called again on behalf of the business for which the solicitation was made. Names must be kept on a company’s internal DNC list for 5 years unless the request is revoked.

A telemarketer is required to forward all requests to be removed from a list to the company on whose behalf it is calling. If a telemarketer maintains the DNC list, the seller on whose behalf the telemarketer places the call will still be subject to liability for any failure to honor a DNC request. The DNC request must also be honored by any affiliate or subsidiary of the company if there is a reasonable expectation on the part of the consumer that the request would also apply to the affiliate or subsidiary

A call is exempt from the TCPA's DNC provisions if it:

• Is made on behalf of a tax-exempt nonprofit organization;
• Is not made for a commercial purpose;
• Does not include an unsolicited advertisement, even if it is made for a commercial purpose; or
• Is made to a consumer with whom the calling company has an EBR.

The term EBR is defined under the TCPA the same as it is under the TSR and the same rules apply (see discussion above).

Other important provisions of the TCPA include:

Wireless Numbers- the TCPA prohibits using an automatic telephone dialing system (ATDS) to call a cell phone, pager or any other number for which the called party is charged without the consumer’s prior express consent (prior express written consent required for telemarketing/advertising calls).

• A predictive dialer has been interpreted by the FCC And some federal courts to constitute an ATDS.
• Subject to a few limitations, the FCC has held that a consumer who knowingly provides his/her cell phone number to a business as a contact number has provided "prior express consent" to be contacted at that number (for non-telemarketing calls).
• Federal courts have held that an ATDS is any equipment that has the capacity "to store or produce telephone numbers to be called, using a random or sequential number generator," regardless of whether it is used in such manner.
• The FCC and federal courts have held that a text message constitutes a telephone call for purposes of the TCPA and FCC regulations.
• To obtain prior express written consent, the caller must enter into an agreement with the consumer, which meets the following requirements:

1) Must be in writing;
2) Must be signed by the consumer (an electronic signature is sufficient pursuant to the E-SIGN Act);
3) Must specifically authorize the caller to place telemarketing calls to the consumer;
4) Must clearly authorize the caller to use an ATDS and/or prerecorded message;
5) Must include the telephone number to be called; and
6) Must disclose that consumers are not required to sign the agreement (directly or indirectly) or agree to the agreement as a condition of purchasing any property, goods or services.

Emergency Numbers - the TCPA prohibits using an ATDS to place any calls to emergency phone lines (including 911 numbers, hospital emergency lines, physicians or medical service lines, health care facilities, poison control centers, fire protection, or law enforcement agencies).

Prerecorded Messages - the TCPA prohibits sending prerecorded messages to residential subscribers, except in cases of emergency, if the caller has received prior express written consent (see requirements listed above) or if another exemption (e.g. non-solicitation messages) apply.

Automated Opt-out Mechanisms. The FCC's amended TCPA regulations require all prerecorded telemarketing messages and abandoned call messages to provide an automated, interactive voice and/or key-press-activated opt-out mechanism that allows consumers to make an internal DNC request. The mechanism must automatically add the consumer's number to the caller's internal DNC list and immediately terminate the call. If the message is left on an answering machine or in a voice mailbox, the message must provide a toll free number that enables the consumer to connect to the automated opt-out mechanism.

Multi-Line Businesses - the TCPA prohibits using an ATDS in a manner that simultaneously engages two or more lines of a multi-line business.

Fax Machines - the TCPA also bans the use of fax machines to send unsolicited commercial advertisements to either residences or business, without express written permission.

Image of Rich Hamilton, Quality Contact Solutions
"This online guide is a comprehensive look at the ever-changing legislative landscape and a 'must-use' for anyone involved in teleservices today."
Rich Hamilton, CECP, Director of Marketing [Quality Contact Solutions, Inc.]