ACA International, the association for credit and collection professionals, Monday published an analysis of a recent independent study that examined constraints of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) for the public sector. The study makes a compelling case that data no longer supports the enforcement of the TCPA as it was originally written.
“Reform of the antiquated Telephone Consumers Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA) is among the highest priorities for ACA International members and many businesses in America,” writes the ACA. “While enacted to address concerns regarding telephone marketing calls, TCPA has created significant negative consequences for the public and private sectors seeking to reach consumers for informational, non-telemarketing calls.”
The study focuses mainly on consumers’ use of cell phones and companies’ use of autodialer technology to place calls, two issues at the center of most TCPA compliance concerns. The study’s author, Judy Xanthopoulos, PhD of Quantria Strategies, LLC, argues that consumer’s adoption of cell phones has happened so quickly that it no longer makes sense to have separate rules for landlines and cell phones.
The report notes that now more than 54.1 percent of U.S. households rely either exclusively or predominantly on wireless telephone service and 38.2 percent of all U.S. adults live in households with only wireless telephones (i.e. no landline). Furthermore, CTIA estimates there are more than 326 million cell phone subscribers in the United States, now exceeding an estimated 250 million adults in the country.
ACA noted that up to 90 percent of accounts worked by collection agencies now include a consumer cell phone number and that it takes nearly twice the number of attempts to reach a consumer on a landline telephone than a cell phone. On average, it takes 3 attempts to reach a consumer on a cell phone versus 7 on a landline phone.
On autodialer use, the report noted that it takes more than twice as many employees to manually call accounts versus using an autodialer. ACA said that manual dialing is roughly 50-75% more expensive for collection agencies, adding more than $178 million to the cost of doing business for collection agencies.
The proposed changes to the TCPA are pretty straightforward in both the independent report and in ACA’s analysis: that the use automatic dialing systems and prerecorded voice messages should be allowed.
The ACA recommends lobbying both the FCC – which enforces the TCPA – and members of Congress to get a permanent legislative fix.