The Telecommunications Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) has been designed to regulate automatically dialed calls, telemarketing calls, prerecorded calls, unsolicited faxes, as well as unsolicited text messages. However, this complex set of regulations and guidelines can be confusing. Here at DataMasters we want to help clarify the key points of the Telecommunications Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). It’s important to us that our clients fully understand how to protect themselves as well as their businesses. Understanding the regulations and penalties associated with the TCPA will help protect your company in addition to your customers.
What Does the Telecommunications Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) Regulate?
In addition to regulating the following calls, the TCPA also contributes to the creation of the National Do-Not-Cal List.
- Automatically Dialed Calls
- Telemarketing Calls
- Prerecorded Calls
- Unsolicited Faxes
- Unsolicited Texts
The regulations of this act do not include debt collection calls as they are not classified as telemarketing calls.
Regulations of the Telecommunications Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)
The regulations of the Telecommunications Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) require that all telemarketing as well as advertisement calls:
- Are made between the hours of 8 am and 9pm according to the recipient’s local time
- May not call telephone numbers on the national do-not-call registry
Telemarketing calls are phone calls or messages with the purpose of encouraging the recipient to purchase or invest in:
In October 2013 the following exceptions were made to the TCPA. These exceptions include calls that are:
- Manually dialed without pre-recorded messages
- Emergency calls
- Non-commercial calls
- Commercial calls that do not include advertisements
- Made by or on behalf of tax-exempt nonprofit organizations
- Delivering health care messages
The Telecommunications Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) also requires calls that are not exempt to honor the following guidelines:
- Unanswered calls must be disconnected within 15 seconds or after 4 rings
- Abandon more than 3% of telemarketing calls answered by a person over a 30-day period
Additionally, prerecorded calls must follow these guidelines as well:
- Clearly identify the business or individual responsible for initiating the call at the beginning of the call
- Clearly state a toll-free telephone number of the business or individual responsible for initiating the call during or after the message
- Provide an automated, interactive opt out selection for the recipient to make a do-not-call request
Frequently Asked Questions about the Telecommunications Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)
What about numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry?
The FCC permits the use of a version of the national do-not-call registry obtained no more than 31 days prior to the date that any call is made. In addition, callers must undergo internal training and be provided with written procedures and records documenting the process. Phone numbers placed on the registry within the 31 day grace period may still be contacted. This protects companies from facing the additional demands of an ever changing Do-Not-Call registry.
What are the risks of non-compliance?
The Telecommunications Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) also allows individuals to file lawsuits and collect damages against entities that are out of compliance. Lawsuits must be filed in local state court and small claims court for statutory damages. These damages typically range between $500 and $1500 per violation. The offending party awards any statutory damages to the consumer. The amount of damages can increase drastically depending on the number of offences. In addition to paying damages, your state may impose additional restrictions and penalties.
What about wired numbers ported to wireless numbers?
The FCC allows a 15 day grace period for calls that are ported to mobile numbers. There are no penalties for violating regulations in this circumstance under the following conditions:
- Call is placed to a wireless number which has been ported from a wired service
- The call is not knowingly placed to a wireless number
- The call is made within 15 days of the porting of the number
- The phone number is not on the national do-not-call registry
- The phone number is not on the caller’s company-specific do-not-call registry
What You Need to Know to Protect Your Business
If your company uses these data lists to reach out to current or potential customers it’s important to comply with regulations. If you do not follow the regulations set forth by the Telecommunications Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) then your company will be at risk of consequences.
It is also very important to stay informed on any further changes to the TCPA. As a responsible business owner it is your priority to protect your business and comply with all laws. DataMasters can help keep you informed on what regulations your company needs to abide by to avoid penalties. In addition to federal violations, your state may impose additional restrictions and penalties for failing to abide by local regulations.
Educate yourself and your staff on the regulations and penalties surrounding the Telecommunications Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). By having the appropriate knowledge, you will protect your company from the risk of lawsuits and other penalties which may damage the reputation and also the bottom line of your business.
Call DataMasters at (469) 549-1800 for more information about the regulations and penalties of the Telecommunications Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).