A Brief Introduction to the Telemarketing Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)

The Telemarketing Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) was first put in place back in 1991. It has had updates over the years to help this act keep up with changing technologies, including the rapid adoption of cell phones by consumers. TCPA allows the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to collect complaints concerning telemarketing companies, and then institute enforcement actions against those who violate the act.

Telemarketing companies need to be very familiar with the restrictions that this act puts upon them as any violations can result in serious sanctions. Unfortunately, due to the traditionally high turnover rates for telemarketing jobs, it can be difficult to ensure all employees are fully aware of all the restrictions that are in place. Having a good introduction to the TCPA will lay out some of the most important areas of this set of regulations.

Restrictions on Calling Residential Numbers

The TCPA states that telemarketers are not permitted to use any type of artificial or pre-recorded voice message (‘robo calls’) when calling residential numbers. The only exceptions to this is if the owner of the number specifically opted in to receiving these types of calls, or if the call is being made only to collect a debt that is owed.

Restrictions on Calling Wireless Numbers

Wireless numbers (cell phones) are becoming extremely popular, and in some demographics actually outnumber those of traditional land line numbers. All of the same restrictions that apply to residential numbers also apply to wireless numbers. In addition to phone calls, telemarketers cannot send text messages to wireless numbers without express consent being given.

Other Key TCPA Restrictions

There are quite a few other restrictions that apply to telemarketers. These are restrictions that the telemarketing agents themselves should be trained on before they ever sit at a phone:

  • Limit to Four Rings – Telemarketers must disconnect an unanswered call within 15 seconds or four rings, whichever comes first.
  • Time of Calls – Telemarketing agents may never initiate a phone call outside of the hours of 8AM-9PM. The time is local time of the person being called.
  • Do Not Call Registry – If a consumer has registered for the do not call database, they may never be called for commercial purposes.

Seeking Legal Assistance

The TCPA covers many areas, and carries with it some pretty serious penalties for companies that don’t comply with the regulations. Any telemarketing firm that is making outbound calls needs to make serious efforts to ensure the company and all agents remain in line with the regulations in place. Having an attorney available to review procedures can be very helpful. Contact Cove Law with any questions you might have, or to schedule a consultation if you are under investigation for any violation of the TCPA.