On July 10, 2015, The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) issued a long-awaited
ruling regarding the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The ruling
has many implications for all types of business and debt collections communications.
The ruling had several major points. First, the FCC clarified what constitutes
an “autodialer” under the statute. The TCPA was created in
1991, and since that time the language in the statute has had to be updated
to keep up with technology.
Advertisers and bill collectors had tried to avoid the statute by creating
technology that did not fit the autodialed definition. According to the
FCC’s own advisory, “little or no modern dialing equipment
would fit the statutory definition of an autodialer” under certain
definitions. Finding that Congress intended the limit the principle behind
the technology rather than specific technology itself, the FCC expanded
the definition of the term “autodialer” to include any technology
that has the capacity—either now or in the future—to automatically
generate, store, and call phone numbers.
The FCC stated that whether or not some technology counts as an autodialer
would need to be determined on a case-by-case basis. However, it also
stated that the basic function of an autodialer is to either (or both)
dial numbers without human intervention and dial thousands of numbers
in a short period of time. Devices that can do this are regulated under
the TCPA and cannot be used to contact most consumers without their consent.
Second, the FCC declined to extend protection to bill collectors and advertisers
who contacted the wrong person. The industry had been pushing for a wrong
number exception which would release a company from liability for calling
the wrong person. Instead, the FCC held that when consent is required,
the company must obtain consent from either the subscriber to that number
or the customary owner of the phone.
The FCC also stated that companies will incur TCPA liability if they have
actual or constructive knowledge that they are calling an incorrect number,
and pushed businesses to institute new and better safeguards to avoid
calling wrong or reassigned numbers.
Finally, the FCC stated in its ruling that any person who is receiving
calls or texts can revoke his or her consent at any time, through any
reasonable means. This means several things for consumers. Companies will
no longer be able to specify that a person will only stop receiving calls
or texts if he or she revokes consent in a certain way. Instead, the FCC
noted that consumers can revoke their consent in writing, orally, or in-person
at a business location.
Overall, the new ruling protects consumers’ rights to be left alone
and not bothered by unwanted or harassing phone calls or text messages.
Debt collectors and advertisers will be required to follow stricter rules,
and consumers should be benefitted by extra protections.
If you have been harassed by unwanted phone calls or text messages, you
may be able to file a lawsuit seeking damages. To learn more about your
legal rights and options, schedule a free consultation with the experienced
debt defense attorneys at Loan Lawyers. Contact our office today by calling
(888) FIGHT-13 (344-4813).