What is the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)?
The TCPA, or Telephone Consumer Protection Act, is a U.S. federal law that was enacted in 1991 to regulate telemarketing calls, auto-dialing systems, prerecorded voice messages, text messages, and fax transmissions. The primary goal of the TCPA is to protect consumers from unwanted and intrusive forms of communication and to establish certain requirements for telemarketers and businesses engaging in these practices.
Key provisions of the TCPA include
- Do-Not-Call List – the National Do-Not-Call Registry, allowing consumers to opt out of receiving unsolicited telemarketing calls. Telemarketers are required to consult this list and refrain from calling numbers listed on it.
- Prior Express Consent – businesses are generally prohibited from making autodialed or prerecorded voice calls to residential landline numbers without the prior express consent of the called party. For cell phones, prerecorded voice messages and auto-dialing are prohibited without the called party’s prior express consent.
- SMS – The TCPA also applies to text messages. Businesses must have the recipient’s prior express consent before sending marketing text messages, and they must provide a mechanism for recipients to opt out.
- Restrictions on Auto-Dialing Systems – restrictions on the use of auto-dialing systems, which are devices capable of dialing numbers without human intervention. Such systems are subject to specific rules to prevent unwanted calls.
Violations of the TCPA can result in legal actions, including fines and penalties. The law has been amended and updated over the years to adapt to changes in technology and communication methods. Businesses engaging in telemarketing or sending automated messages should be aware of and comply with the TCPA’s provisions to avoid legal consequences.