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New Rules to Help Consumers

Some new and exciting rules to aid consumers were proposed by the Federal Communications Commissions this week. I have written about the CFPB, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau a number of times in this blog before, they deal with consumer protection issues and consumer credit. The FCC regulates radios and television but they also regulate the phone system, which is why it is relevant to our practice. The FCC has proposed new rules relating to the Telephonic Communication Practices Act (TCPA), a law which forbids debt collectors and others using automatic dialing devices when calling the cell phones of consumers. The highlights of the new rules and clarifications which the FCC proposed are as follows:

  1. Definition of auto dialer. One issue which has been fought over a lot in Courts throughout the state is what exactly counts as an “auto-dialer”. The FCC removed ambiguity from the definition which will make it a lot harder for companies harassing consumers to claim that the computer device that they used to automatically call cell phones was not “truly” an auto-dialer.
  1. Clarification on revocation. The FCC made clear that even if someone had previously given consent to receive auto-dialed call, they can revoke that consent “in any reasonable way at any time” and that it does not need to be in writing.
  1. No third party consent. This is possibly one of the most important changes. It is no longer legal for companies to claim that a consumer consented to phone calls because they consented to receive calls from a third party.
  1. Text messages count just like phone calls. The FCC ruled that text messages can be violations of the TCPA.

This document has been provided for informational purposes only and is not intended and should not be construed to constitute legal advice. Please consult your attorney in connection with any legal issues related to the matters discussed in this article as the applicability of state, local and federal laws may vary.