' Yana Nebuchina | MTTLR

Telemarketing and the TCPA: Still Stuck in 1991?

“Computerized calls are the scourge of modern civilization.” This 1991 quote by Senator Fritz Hollings is as relatable today as it was nearly thirty years ago. Whether it’s a call congratulating you on winning a vacation to Florida, a voicemail recording in Mandarin, or your trusty cable provider soliciting even more of your money, every consumer appreciates how pervasive these calls are. Do not call registries, attempts to block offending numbers, and apps created to filter out spam calls fail to provide meaningful protection against evasive tricks like spoofing (where the spam-callers use an area code and number similar to your own). A recent analysis estimated that the number of robocalls made per month increased by over a billion in the first half of 2018. A large percentage of these calls are scams (like the recording in Mandarin) or debt collections. But a substantial number are telemarketing calls (like the evening ring from your neighborhood cable service). And consumer groups are worried that recent changes in the law and regulations restricting telemarketing are going to make the situation worse. Congress enacted the Telephone Consumer Protection Act in 1991 to protect consumers from the proliferation of automated telemarketing calls. The TCPA prohibits calls to cellular phones that are placed using an automatic dialing system or a pre-recorded message, without the prior consent of the recipient. The Act authorizes a private right of action and plaintiffs may recover at least $500 in damages for each call made in violation of the statute, and up to treble damages for each “willful or knowing” violation. The TCPA delegates authority to the Federal Communications...