What do Donald Trump, Coca-Cola, and Taco Bell have in common? They’ve all been slapped with a lawsuit as a result of breaching the Telephone Consumer Protection Act at some point in their existence.
So what is the Telephone Consumer Protection Act all about?The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), enacted by the Federal Communications Commission in 1991, governs and often precludes unsolicited calls and texts sent to wireless devices from autodialers. Initially, the Act was designed to serve a noble purpose; to safeguard consumer privacy by restricting companies from engaging in unsolicited telemarketing communication practices. However, after twenty years of technological evolution, it’s quite clear that the TCPA has become outdated and is now being used to fuel an alarming increase in class action lawsuits throughout the USA. According to data from WebRecon LLC, TCPA litigation has increased by a staggering 82.9% since last year. What’s more, defendants of these lawsuits are no longer limited to just telemarketers and debt collectors. Businesses, both big and small, including the likes of sports franchises, networking companies and even pharmaceutical companies, are now more susceptible than ever to these lawsuits. Simply put, any company contacting its customers is at risk of violating the TCPA, and is therefore potentially putting its life on the line.
Tips to avoid TCPA violationsFortunately, TCPA lawsuits and fines are completely avoidable. Knowing where to start with TCPA compliance begins with developing a firm understanding of what the law covers, how the rules are changing, and the tools and techniques available for risk mitigation. Therefore, in light of the present scope of liability covered under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, experts advise companies to consider the following preventive measures:
- Always obtain written consent for all prerecorded/autodialed communications. The consent should also include the signature of the person who will receive the calls or texts as well as the telephone number of which the consumer authorizes telemarketing messages and advertisements be sent.
- Make sure you carefully review the policies and practices of third-party vendors to ensure they are in compliance with the TCPA. It’s also important to keep in mind that just because you are contacting your customer’s using a 3rd party affiliate, you are not necessarily absolved from legal responsibility.
- Consider providing your consumers with user-friendly mechanisms like a ‘STOP’ or ‘UNSUBSCRIBE’ option allowing them to opt out of receiving TCPA-covered calls or texts.
- Adopt consent forms that are conspicuous and easily understood in order to reduce instances where the form may be deemed invalid.
- Ensure that you maintain all consent or permission records for at least four years to avoid conflicts with the statute of limitation period regarding TCPA claims.