TCPA – Cell Phone Restrictions
What’s new about the TCPA’s restrictions on auto-dialing?
On February 15, 2012, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a highly anticipated Report and Order (Order) that updates and clarifies certain provisions of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA). Of importance to the collections industry, the Order did not include the proposed limits on the use of prerecorded calls and automatic telephone dialing systems, or “autodialers,” by debt collectors and others not engaged in sales or telemarketing.
Under the final rule, autodialed or prerecorded collection calls and other “informational” non-sales calls to wireless numbers will not require a signed written agreement from the consumer, as the FCC had proposed in a draft rule. Instead, such calls can continue to be made with only the consumer’s “prior express consent,” which can be written or oral.
Remaining in effect is the FCC’s earlier ruling that autodialed or prerecorded collection calls to wireless numbers are made with the consumer’s “prior express consent” if the consumer has given the cell phone number to the creditor for use in normal business communications, such as in a credit application.
This Order does not require written consent for calls that do not involve telemarketing messages and are made to consumers on residential lines. The FCC provided in the Order a non-exhaustive list of such non-telemarketing calls that are exempt from the written consent requirement, which includes debt-collection calls, research and survey calls, and bank account fraud alerts.
Who is impacted by the FCC's new Report and Order?
Debt Collection agencies that utilize auto-dialer technology to contact consumers