A bill that would update the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) to allow informational calls using auto-dialers was introduced Thursday in the U.S. House of Representatives, according to a press release from ACA International.
ACA International, the association of credit and collection professionals, voiced its support of the Mobile Informational Call Act of 2011 (H.R. 3035), and the leadership of its authors, Congressmen Lee Terry (R-NE) and Edolphus Towns (D-NY).
“Modernization of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) is among the top priorities for ACA members,” said ACA International Chief Executive Officer Patrick J. Morris. “Given the explosive growth in consumer reliance on mobile devices as a preferred means for communication, this legislation will enact limited, common-sense revisions to facilitate the delivery of time-sensitive consumer information, while continuing to protect wireless consumers from unwanted telemarketing calls.”
The Mobile Informational Call Act of 2011 will modernize the TCPA by exempting informational calls to wireless phones from auto-dialer restrictions; clarify the “prior express consent” requirement; and continue the prohibition against the use of assistive technologies to call wireless numbers for telemarketing purposes.
The text of the bill specifically addresses “prior express consent” through an amended definition:
The term “prior express consent” means the oral or written approval of a person —
(A) for the initiation of a telephone call to such person by or on behalf of an entity with which such person has an established business relationship; and
(B) that is provided when such person purchases a good or service or at any other point during such relationship.
A person who provides a telephone number as a means of contact evidences consent under this paragraph.
“A strong consumer-protection environment depends on appropriate communication between businesses and their customers,” said ACA International Director of Federal Government Affairs Adam Peterman. “This landmark legislation will update TCPA’s outdated restrictions, while preserving its original intent to protect wireless consumers from unwanted telemarketing calls.”
The introduction of the bill is the latest development in the ongoing battle over permissibility of calls to cell phones under the TCPA. Earlier this week, President Obama included a provision in his deficit reduction plan that would allow government agencies to contact consumers on their cell phones for the purpose of debt collection.
In supporting the Mobile Informational Call Act of 2011, ACA joins a broad coalition of industries that rely on assistive technologies to convey timely and important information to notify consumers about threats such as data breaches and fraud alerts; provide timely notice of flight and service appointment cancellations and drug recalls; and protect consumers against the adverse consequences of failure to make timely payments on an account. In addition to ACA, coalition partners include:
- American Bankers Association
- Financial Services Roundtable
- Air Transport Association
- Housing Policy Council
- Community Bankers Association
- Mortgage Bankers Association
- U.S. Chamber of Commerce
- National Council of Higher Education Loan Programs
- Education Finance Council
- Student Loan Servicing Alliance Private Loan Committee
- Edison Electric Institute
- National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO)