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FCC Makes Declaratory Ruling Changing TCPA Law

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).