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Paul Zimmerman

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Change is Coming for the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”)

Legitimate businesses nationwide continue to face costly litigation brought under the TCPA, at the great expense of companies making legitimate telephone calls to customers to convey important information. The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) continues to receive petition after petition from businesses seeking clarification over numerous aspects of the TCPA. In fact, in 2008, there were 14 TCPA complaints filed in U.S. courts; in 2013 and 2014, there were 3,770 complaints filed. The increasing flood of litigation over a statute that was enacted to stop telemarketing harassment, as well as the backlog of petitions, has not been lost on the FCC.  

On April 1, 2015, FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, spoke before the Association of National Advertisers (“ANA”) and urged his Commission “to act to provide clear rules of the road that will benefit everyone,” noting that expensive litigation “is impacting all sectors of the economy.” He added that while he does not support companies hounding consumers with harassing calls, “[w]e can’t paint all legitimate companies with the brush that every call from a private company is a form of harassment.” Commissioner O’Rielly also clearly indicated the direction he’d like to see the TCPA’s enforcement take: “companies are trying to provide a useful service and if we make it too burdensome or costly for them to do so, then they won’t make the calls. It’s that simple.” 

The comments by the FCC’s Commissioner suggest that help may be on the way for those well-intentioned businesses endeavoring to comply with the TCPA, who are looking for nothing more than guidance from the FCC over a statute that has become a hotbed of misguided consumer litigation and confusion amongst the courts. Please see the full text of Commissioner O’Rielly’s April 1, 2015 remarks before the ANA. TCPA petitions pending before the FCC, and the resulting decisions, can be monitored here.

This article is not offered as, and should not be relied on as, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice in specific situations.