The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA) is the primary law in the U.S. governing the conduct of telemarketers. Its primary regulator is the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The TCPA restricts the use of dialers, prerecorded voice messages, SMS text messages received by cell phones, and the use of fax machines. Even though the law was not designed with ARM in mind, debt collectors often find themselves restricted in the communication technology they can use. In addition, contradictory guidance from regulators and court rulings has led to an explosion in the number of TCPA cases collection agencies must defend.
On this page, you will find important documents from the FCC, the full text of the TCPA, case law from recent court decisions, and other information that should be helpful to debt collectors that use leading edge communication technology.
Full Text of the TCPA
United States Code, 2011 Edition
Title 47 - TELEGRAPHS, TELEPHONES, AND RADIOTELEGRAPHS
CHAPTER 5 - WIRE OR RADIO COMMUNICATION
SUBCHAPTER II - COMMON CARRIERS
Part I - Common Carrier Regulation
Sec. 227 - Restrictions on use of telephone equipment
From the U.S. Government Printing Office, www.gpo.gov
§227. Restrictions on use of telephone equipment
As used in this section—
(1) The term “automatic telephone dialing system” means equipment which has the capacity—
(A) to store or produce telephone numbers to be called, using a random or sequential number generator; and
(B) to dial such numbers.
(2) The term “established business relationship”, for purposes only of subsection (b)(1)(C)(i) of this section, shall have the meaning given the term in section 64.1200 of title 47, Code of Federal Regulations, as in effect on January 1, 2003, except that—
(A) such term shall include a relationship between a person or entity and a business subscriber subject to the same terms applicable under such section to a relationship between a person or entity and a residential subscriber; and
(B) an established business relationship shall be subject to any time limitation established pursuant to paragraph (2)(G)).1
(3) The term “telephone facsimile machine” means equipment which has the capacity (A) to transcribe text or images, or both, from paper into an electronic signal and to transmit that signal over a regular telephone line, or (B) to transcribe text or images (or both) from an electronic signal received over a regular telephone line onto paper.
(4) The term “telephone solicitation” means the initiation of a telephone call or message for the purpose of encouraging the purchase or rental of, or investment in, property, goods, or services, which is transmitted to any person, but such term does not include a call or message (A) to any person with that person's prior express invitation or permission, (B) to any person with whom the caller has an established business relationship, or (C) by a tax exempt nonprofit organization.
(5) The term “unsolicited advertisement” means any material advertising the commercial availability or quality of any property, goods, or services which is transmitted to any person without that person's prior express invitation or permission, in writing or otherwise.
(b) Restrictions on use of automated telephone equipment
It shall be unlawful for any person within the United States, or any person outside the United States if the recipient is within the United States—
(A) to make any call (other than a call made for emergency purposes or made with the prior express consent of the called party) using any automatic telephone dialing system or an artificial or prerecorded voice—
(i) to any emergency telephone line (including any “911” line and any emergency line of a hospital, medical physician or service office, health care facility, poison control center, or fire protection or law enforcement agency);
(ii) to the telephone line of any guest room or patient room of a hospital, health care facility, elderly home, or similar establishment; or
(iii) to any telephone number assigned to a paging service, cellular telephone service, specialized mobile radio service, or other radio common carrier service, or any service for which the called party is charged for the call;
(B) to initiate any telephone call to any residential telephone line using an artificial or prerecorded voice to deliver a message without the prior express consent of the called party, unless the call is initiated for emergency purposes or is exempted by rule or order by the Commission under paragraph (2)(B);
(C) to use any telephone facsimile machine, computer, or other device to send, to a telephone facsimile machine, an unsolicited advertisement, unless—
(i) the unsolicited advertisement is from a sender with an established business relationship with the recipient;
(ii) the sender obtained the number of the telephone facsimile machine through—
(I) the voluntary communication of such number, within the context of such established business relationship, from the recipient of the unsolicited advertisement, or
(II) a directory, advertisement, or site on the Internet to which the recipient voluntarily agreed to make available its facsimile number for public distribution,
except that this clause shall not apply in the case of an unsolicited advertisement that is sent based on an established business relationship with the recipient that was in existence before July 9, 2005, if the sender possessed the facsimile machine number of the recipient before July 9, 2005; and
(iii) the unsolicited advertisement contains a notice meeting the requirements under paragraph (2)(D),
except that the exception under clauses (i) and (ii) shall not apply with respect to an unsolicited advertisement sent to a telephone facsimile machine by a sender to whom a request has been made not to send future unsolicited advertisements to such telephone facsimile machine that complies with the requirements under paragraph (2)(E); or
(D) to use an automatic telephone dialing system in such a way that two or more telephone lines of a multi-line business are engaged simultaneously.
(2) Regulations; exemptions and other provisions
The Commission shall prescribe regulations to implement the requirements of this subsection. In implementing the requirements of this subsection, the Commission—
(A) shall consider prescribing regulations to allow businesses to avoid receiving calls made using an artificial or prerecorded voice to which they have not given their prior express consent;
(B) may, by rule or order, exempt from the requirements of paragraph (1)(B) of this subsection, subject to such conditions as the Commission may prescribe—
(i) calls that are not made for a commercial purpose; and
(ii) such classes or categories of calls made for commercial purposes as the Commission determines—
(I) will not adversely affect the privacy rights that this section is intended to protect; and
(II) do not include the transmission of any unsolicited advertisement;
(C) may, by rule or order, exempt from the requirements of paragraph (1)(A)(iii) of this subsection calls to a telephone number assigned to a cellular telephone service that are not charged to the called party, subject to such conditions as the Commission may prescribe as necessary in the interest of the privacy rights this section is intended to protect;
(D) shall provide that a notice contained in an unsolicited advertisement complies with the requirements under this subparagraph only if—
(i) the notice is clear and conspicuous and on the first page of the unsolicited advertisement;
(ii) the notice states that the recipient may make a request to the sender of the unsolicited advertisement not to send any future unsolicited advertisements to a telephone facsimile machine or machines and that failure to comply, within the shortest reasonable time, as determined by the Commission, with such a request meeting the requirements under subparagraph (E) is unlawful;
(iii) the notice sets forth the requirements for a request under subparagraph (E);
(iv) the notice includes—
(I) a domestic contact telephone and facsimile machine number for the recipient to transmit such a request to the sender; and
(II) a cost-free mechanism for a recipient to transmit a request pursuant to such notice to the sender of the unsolicited advertisement; the Commission shall by rule require the sender to provide such a mechanism and may, in the discretion of the Commission and subject to such conditions as the Commission may prescribe, exempt certain classes of small business senders, but only if the Commission determines that the costs to such class are unduly burdensome given the revenues generated by such small businesses;
(v) the telephone and facsimile machine numbers and the cost-free mechanism set forth pursuant to clause (iv) permit an individual or business to make such a request at any time on any day of the week; and
(vi) the notice complies with the requirements of subsection (d) of this section;
(E) shall provide, by rule, that a request not to send future unsolicited advertisements to a telephone facsimile machine complies with the requirements under this subparagraph only if—
(i) the request identifies the telephone number or numbers of the telephone facsimile machine or machines to which the request relates;
(ii) the request is made to the telephone or facsimile number of the sender of such an unsolicited advertisement provided pursuant to subparagraph (D)(iv) or by any other method of communication as determined by the Commission; and
(iii) the person making the request has not, subsequent to such request, provided express invitation or permission to the sender, in writing or otherwise, to send such advertisements to such person at such telephone facsimile machine;
(F) may, in the discretion of the Commission and subject to such conditions as the Commission may prescribe, allow professional or trade associations that are tax-exempt nonprofit organizations to send unsolicited advertisements to their members in furtherance of the association's tax-exempt purpose that do not contain the notice required by paragraph (1)(C)(iii), except that the Commission may take action under this subparagraph only—
(i) by regulation issued after public notice and opportunity for public comment; and
(ii) if the Commission determines that such notice required by paragraph (1)(C)(iii) is not necessary to protect the ability of the members of such associations to stop such associations from sending any future unsolicited advertisements; and
(G)(i) may, consistent with clause (ii), limit the duration of the existence of an established business relationship, however, before establishing any such limits, the Commission shall—
(I) determine whether the existence of the exception under paragraph (1)(C) relating to an established business relationship has resulted in a significant number of complaints to the Commission regarding the sending of unsolicited advertisements to telephone facsimile machines;
(II) determine whether a significant number of any such complaints involve unsolicited advertisements that were sent on the basis of an established business relationship that was longer in duration than the Commission believes is consistent with the reasonable expectations of consumers;
(III) evaluate the costs to senders of demonstrating the existence of an established business relationship within a specified period of time and the benefits to recipients of establishing a limitation on such established business relationship; and
(IV) determine whether with respect to small businesses, the costs would not be unduly burdensome; and
(ii) may not commence a proceeding to determine whether to limit the duration of the existence of an established business relationship before the expiration of the 3-month period that begins on July 9, 2005.
(3) Private right of action
A person or entity may, if otherwise permitted by the laws or rules of court of a State, bring in an appropriate court of that State—
(A) an action based on a violation of this subsection or the regulations prescribed under this subsection to enjoin such violation,
(B) an action to recover for actual monetary loss from such a violation, or to receive $500 in damages for each such violation, whichever is greater, or
(C) both such actions.
If the court finds that the defendant willfully or knowingly violated this subsection or the regulations prescribed under this subsection, the court may, in its discretion, increase the amount of the award to an amount equal to not more than 3 times the amount available under subparagraph (B) of this paragraph.
(c) Protection of subscriber privacy rights
(1) Rulemaking proceeding required
Within 120 days after December 20, 1991, the Commission shall initiate a rulemaking proceeding concerning the need to protect residential telephone subscribers’ privacy rights to avoid receiving telephone solicitations to which they object. The proceeding shall—
(A) compare and evaluate alternative methods and procedures (including the use of electronic databases, telephone network technologies, special directory markings, industry-based or company-specific “do not call” systems, and any other alternatives, individually or in combination) for their effectiveness in protecting such privacy rights, and in terms of their cost and other advantages and disadvantages;
(B) evaluate the categories of public and private entities that would have the capacity to establish and administer such methods and procedures;
(C) consider whether different methods and procedures may apply for local telephone solicitations, such as local telephone solicitations of small businesses or holders of second class mail permits;
(D) consider whether there is a need for additional Commission authority to further restrict telephone solicitations, including those calls exempted under subsection (a)(3) of this section, and, if such a finding is made and supported by the record, propose specific restrictions to the Congress; and
(E) develop proposed regulations to implement the methods and procedures that the Commission determines are most effective and efficient to accomplish the purposes of this section.
Not later than 9 months after December 20, 1991, the Commission shall conclude the rulemaking proceeding initiated under paragraph (1) and shall prescribe regulations to implement methods and procedures for protecting the privacy rights described in such paragraph in an efficient, effective, and economic manner and without the imposition of any additional charge to telephone subscribers.
(3) Use of database permitted
The regulations required by paragraph (2) may require the establishment and operation of a single national database to compile a list of telephone numbers of residential subscribers who object to receiving telephone solicitations, and to make that compiled list and parts thereof available for purchase. If the Commission determines to require such a database, such regulations shall—
(A) specify a method by which the Commission will select an entity to administer such database;
(B) require each common carrier providing telephone exchange service, in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Commission, to inform subscribers for telephone exchange service of the opportunity to provide notification, in accordance with regulations established under this paragraph, that such subscriber objects to receiving telephone solicitations;
(C) specify the methods by which each telephone subscriber shall be informed, by the common carrier that provides local exchange service to that subscriber, of (i) the subscriber's right to give or revoke a notification of an objection under subparagraph (A), and (ii) the methods by which such right may be exercised by the subscriber;
(D) specify the methods by which such objections shall be collected and added to the database;
(E) prohibit any residential subscriber from being charged for giving or revoking such notification or for being included in a database compiled under this section;
(F) prohibit any person from making or transmitting a telephone solicitation to the telephone number of any subscriber included in such database;
(G) specify (i) the methods by which any person desiring to make or transmit telephone solicitations will obtain access to the database, by area code or local exchange prefix, as required to avoid calling the telephone numbers of subscribers included in such database; and (ii) the costs to be recovered from such persons;
(H) specify the methods for recovering, from persons accessing such database, the costs involved in identifying, collecting, updating, disseminating, and selling, and other activities relating to, the operations of the database that are incurred by the entities carrying out those activities;
(I) specify the frequency with which such database will be updated and specify the method by which such updating will take effect for purposes of compliance with the regulations prescribed under this subsection;
(J) be designed to enable States to use the database mechanism selected by the Commission for purposes of administering or enforcing State law;
(K) prohibit the use of such database for any purpose other than compliance with the requirements of this section and any such State law and specify methods for protection of the privacy rights of persons whose numbers are included in such database; and
(L) require each common carrier providing services to any person for the purpose of making telephone solicitations to notify such person of the requirements of this section and the regulations thereunder.
(4) Considerations required for use of database method
If the Commission determines to require the database mechanism described in paragraph (3), the Commission shall—
(A) in developing procedures for gaining access to the database, consider the different needs of telemarketers conducting business on a national, regional, State, or local level;
(B) develop a fee schedule or price structure for recouping the cost of such database that recognizes such differences and—
(i) reflect the relative costs of providing a national, regional, State, or local list of phone numbers of subscribers who object to receiving telephone solicitations;
(ii) reflect the relative costs of providing such lists on paper or electronic media; and
(iii) not place an unreasonable financial burden on small businesses; and
(C) consider (i) whether the needs of telemarketers operating on a local basis could be met through special markings of area white pages directories, and (ii) if such directories are needed as an adjunct to database lists prepared by area code and local exchange prefix.
(5) Private right of action
A person who has received more than one telephone call within any 12-month period by or on behalf of the same entity in violation of the regulations prescribed under this subsection may, if otherwise permitted by the laws or rules of court of a State bring in an appropriate court of that State—
(A) an action based on a violation of the regulations prescribed under this subsection to enjoin such violation,
(B) an action to recover for actual monetary loss from such a violation, or to receive up to $500 in damages for each such violation, whichever is greater, or
(C) both such actions.
It shall be an affirmative defense in any action brought under this paragraph that the defendant has established and implemented, with due care, reasonable practices and procedures to effectively prevent telephone solicitations in violation of the regulations prescribed under this subsection. If the court finds that the defendant willfully or knowingly violated the regulations prescribed under this subsection, the court may, in its discretion, increase the amount of the award to an amount equal to not more than 3 times the amount available under subparagraph (B) of this paragraph.
(6) Relation to subsection (b)
The provisions of this subsection shall not be construed to permit a communication prohibited by subsection (b) of this section.
(d) Technical and procedural standards
It shall be unlawful for any person within the United States—
(A) to initiate any communication using a telephone facsimile machine, or to make any telephone call using any automatic telephone dialing system, that does not comply with the technical and procedural standards prescribed under this subsection, or to use any telephone facsimile machine or automatic telephone dialing system in a manner that does not comply with such standards; or
(B) to use a computer or other electronic device to send any message via a telephone facsimile machine unless such person clearly marks, in a margin at the top or bottom of each transmitted page of the message or on the first page of the transmission, the date and time it is sent and an identification of the business, other entity, or individual sending the message and the telephone number of the sending machine or of such business, other entity, or individual.
(2) Telephone facsimile machines
The Commission shall revise the regulations setting technical and procedural standards for telephone facsimile machines to require that any such machine which is manufactured after one year after December 20, 1991, clearly marks, in a margin at the top or bottom of each transmitted page or on the first page of each transmission, the date and time sent, an identification of the business, other entity, or individual sending the message, and the telephone number of the sending machine or of such business, other entity, or individual.
(3) Artificial or prerecorded voice systems
The Commission shall prescribe technical and procedural standards for systems that are used to transmit any artificial or prerecorded voice message via telephone. Such standards shall require that—
(A) all artificial or prerecorded telephone messages (i) shall, at the beginning of the message, state clearly the identity of the business, individual, or other entity initiating the call, and (ii) shall, during or after the message, state clearly the telephone number or address of such business, other entity, or individual; and
(B) any such system will automatically release the called party's line within 5 seconds of the time notification is transmitted to the system that the called party has hung up, to allow the called party's line to be used to make or receive other calls.
(e) Prohibition on provision of inaccurate caller identification information
(1) In general
It shall be unlawful for any person within the United States, in connection with any telecommunications service or IP-enabled voice service, to cause any caller identification service to knowingly transmit misleading or inaccurate caller identification information with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value, unless such transmission is exempted pursuant to paragraph (3)(B).
(2) Protection for blocking caller identification information
Nothing in this subsection may be construed to prevent or restrict any person from blocking the capability of any caller identification service to transmit caller identification information.
(A) In general
Not later than 6 months after December 22, 2010, the Commission shall prescribe regulations to implement this subsection.
(B) Content of regulations
(i) In general
The regulations required under subparagraph (A) shall include such exemptions from the prohibition under paragraph (1) as the Commission determines is appropriate.
(ii) Specific exemption for law enforcement agencies or court orders
The regulations required under subparagraph (A) shall exempt from the prohibition under paragraph (1) transmissions in connection with—
(I) any authorized activity of a law enforcement agency; or
(II) a court order that specifically authorizes the use of caller identification manipulation.
Not later than 6 months after December 22, 2010, the Commission shall report to Congress whether additional legislation is necessary to prohibit the provision of inaccurate caller identification information in technologies that are successor or replacement technologies to telecommunications service or IP-enabled voice service.
(A) Civil forfeiture
(i) In general
Any person that is determined by the Commission, in accordance with paragraphs (3) and (4) of section 503(b) of this title, to have violated this subsection shall be liable to the United States for a forfeiture penalty. A forfeiture penalty under this paragraph shall be in addition to any other penalty provided for by this chapter. The amount of the forfeiture penalty determined under this paragraph shall not exceed $10,000 for each violation, or 3 times that amount for each day of a continuing violation, except that the amount assessed for any continuing violation shall not exceed a total of $1,000,000 for any single act or failure to act.
Any forfeiture penalty determined under clause (i) shall be recoverable pursuant to section 504(a) of this title.
No forfeiture liability shall be determined under clause (i) against any person unless such person receives the notice required by section 503(b)(3) of this title or section 503(b)(4) of this title.
(iv) 2-year statute of limitations
No forfeiture penalty shall be determined or imposed against any person under clause (i) if the violation charged occurred more than 2 years prior to the date of issuance of the required notice or notice or apparent liability.
(B) Criminal fine
Any person who willfully and knowingly violates this subsection shall upon conviction thereof be fined not more than $10,000 for each violation, or 3 times that amount for each day of a continuing violation, in lieu of the fine provided by section 501 of this title for such a violation. This subparagraph does not supersede the provisions of section 501 of this title relating to imprisonment or the imposition of a penalty of both fine and imprisonment.
(6) Enforcement by States
(A) In general
The chief legal officer of a State, or any other State officer authorized by law to bring actions on behalf of the residents of a State, may bring a civil action, as parens patriae, on behalf of the residents of that State in an appropriate district court of the United States to enforce this subsection or to impose the civil penalties for violation of this subsection, whenever the chief legal officer or other State officer has reason to believe that the interests of the residents of the State have been or are being threatened or adversely affected by a violation of this subsection or a regulation under this subsection.
The chief legal officer or other State officer shall serve written notice on the Commission of any civil action under subparagraph (A) prior to initiating such civil action. The notice shall include a copy of the complaint to be filed to initiate such civil action, except that if it is not feasible for the State to provide such prior notice, the State shall provide such notice immediately upon instituting such civil action.
(C) Authority to intervene
Upon receiving the notice required by subparagraph (B), the Commission shall have the right—
(i) to intervene in the action;
(ii) upon so intervening, to be heard on all matters arising therein; and
(iii) to file petitions for appeal.
For purposes of bringing any civil action under subparagraph (A), nothing in this paragraph shall prevent the chief legal officer or other State officer from exercising the powers conferred on that officer by the laws of such State to conduct investigations or to administer oaths or affirmations or to compel the attendance of witnesses or the production of documentary and other evidence.
(E) Venue; service or process
An action brought under subparagraph (A) shall be brought in a district court of the United States that meets applicable requirements relating to venue under section 1391 of title 28.
(ii) Service of process
In an action brought under subparagraph (A)—
(I) process may be served without regard to the territorial limits of the district or of the State in which the action is instituted; and
(II) a person who participated in an alleged violation that is being litigated in the civil action may be joined in the civil action without regard to the residence of the person.
(7) Effect on other laws
This subsection does not prohibit any lawfully authorized investigative, protective, or intelligence activity of a law enforcement agency of the United States, a State, or a political subdivision of a State, or of an intelligence agency of the United States.
For purposes of this subsection:
(A) Caller identification information
The term “caller identification information” means information provided by a caller identification service regarding the telephone number of, or other information regarding the origination of, a call made using a telecommunications service or IP-enabled voice service.
(B) Caller identification service
The term “caller identification service” means any service or device designed to provide the user of the service or device with the telephone number of, or other information regarding the origination of, a call made using a telecommunications service or IP-enabled voice service. Such term includes automatic number identification services.
(C) IP-enabled voice service
The term “IP-enabled voice service” has the meaning given that term by section 9.3 of the Commission's regulations (47 C.F.R. 9.3), as those regulations may be amended by the Commission from time to time.
Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, subsection (f) shall not apply to this subsection or to the regulations under this subsection.
(f) Effect on State law
(1) State law not preempted
Except for the standards prescribed under subsection (d) of this section and subject to paragraph (2) of this subsection, nothing in this section or in the regulations prescribed under this section shall preempt any State law that imposes more restrictive intrastate requirements or regulations on, or which prohibits—
(A) the use of telephone facsimile machines or other electronic devices to send unsolicited advertisements;
(B) the use of automatic telephone dialing systems;
(C) the use of artificial or prerecorded voice messages; or
(D) the making of telephone solicitations.
(2) State use of databases
If, pursuant to subsection (c)(3) of this section, the Commission requires the establishment of a single national database of telephone numbers of subscribers who object to receiving telephone solicitations, a State or local authority may not, in its regulation of telephone solicitations, require the use of any database, list, or listing system that does not include the part of such single national database that relates to such State.
(g) Actions by States
(1) Authority of States
Whenever the attorney general of a State, or an official or agency designated by a State, has reason to believe that any person has engaged or is engaging in a pattern or practice of telephone calls or other transmissions to residents of that State in violation of this section or the regulations prescribed under this section, the State may bring a civil action on behalf of its residents to enjoin such calls, an action to recover for actual monetary loss or receive $500 in damages for each violation, or both such actions. If the court finds the defendant willfully or knowingly violated such regulations, the court may, in its discretion, increase the amount of the award to an amount equal to not more than 3 times the amount available under the preceding sentence.
(2) Exclusive jurisdiction of Federal courts
The district courts of the United States, the United States courts of any territory, and the District Court of the United States for the District of Columbia shall have exclusive jurisdiction over all civil actions brought under this subsection. Upon proper application, such courts shall also have jurisdiction to issue writs of mandamus, or orders affording like relief, commanding the defendant to comply with the provisions of this section or regulations prescribed under this section, including the requirement that the defendant take such action as is necessary to remove the danger of such violation. Upon a proper showing, a permanent or temporary injunction or restraining order shall be granted without bond.
(3) Rights of Commission
The State shall serve prior written notice of any such civil action upon the Commission and provide the Commission with a copy of its complaint, except in any case where such prior notice is not feasible, in which case the State shall serve such notice immediately upon instituting such action. The Commission shall have the right (A) to intervene in the action, (B) upon so intervening, to be heard on all matters arising therein, and (C) to file petitions for appeal.
(4) Venue; service of process
Any civil action brought under this subsection in a district court of the United States may be brought in the district wherein the defendant is found or is an inhabitant or transacts business or wherein the violation occurred or is occurring, and process in such cases may be served in any district in which the defendant is an inhabitant or where the defendant may be found.
(5) Investigatory powers
For purposes of bringing any civil action under this subsection, nothing in this section shall prevent the attorney general of a State, or an official or agency designated by a State, from exercising the powers conferred on the attorney general or such official by the laws of such State to conduct investigations or to administer oaths or affirmations or to compel the attendance of witnesses or the production of documentary and other evidence.
(6) Effect on State court proceedings
Nothing contained in this subsection shall be construed to prohibit an authorized State official from proceeding in State court on the basis of an alleged violation of any general civil or criminal statute of such State.
Whenever the Commission has instituted a civil action for violation of regulations prescribed under this section, no State may, during the pendency of such action instituted by the Commission, subsequently institute a civil action against any defendant named in the Commission's complaint for any violation as alleged in the Commission's complaint.
(8) “Attorney general” defined
As used in this subsection, the term “attorney general” means the chief legal officer of a State.
(h) Junk fax enforcement report
The Commission shall submit an annual report to Congress regarding the enforcement during the past year of the provisions of this section relating to sending of unsolicited advertisements to telephone facsimile machines, which report shall include—
(1) the number of complaints received by the Commission during such year alleging that a consumer received an unsolicited advertisement via telephone facsimile machine in violation of the Commission's rules;
(2) the number of citations issued by the Commission pursuant to section 503 of this title during the year to enforce any law, regulation, or policy relating to sending of unsolicited advertisements to telephone facsimile machines;
(3) the number of notices of apparent liability issued by the Commission pursuant to section 503 of this title during the year to enforce any law, regulation, or policy relating to sending of unsolicited advertisements to telephone facsimile machines;
(4) for each notice referred to in paragraph (3)—
(A) the amount of the proposed forfeiture penalty involved;
(B) the person to whom the notice was issued;
(C) the length of time between the date on which the complaint was filed and the date on which the notice was issued; and
(D) the status of the proceeding;
(5) the number of final orders imposing forfeiture penalties issued pursuant to section 503 of this title during the year to enforce any law, regulation, or policy relating to sending of unsolicited advertisements to telephone facsimile machines;
(6) for each forfeiture order referred to in paragraph (5)—
(A) the amount of the penalty imposed by the order;
(B) the person to whom the order was issued;
(C) whether the forfeiture penalty has been paid; and
(D) the amount paid;
(7) for each case in which a person has failed to pay a forfeiture penalty imposed by such a final order, whether the Commission referred such matter for recovery of the penalty; and
(8) for each case in which the Commission referred such an order for recovery—
(A) the number of days from the date the Commission issued such order to the date of such referral;
(B) whether an action has been commenced to recover the penalty, and if so, the number of days from the date the Commission referred such order for recovery to the date of such commencement; and
(C) whether the recovery action resulted in collection of any amount, and if so, the amount collected.
(June 19, 1934, ch. 652, title II, §227, as added Pub. L. 102–243, §3(a), Dec. 20, 1991, 105 Stat. 2395; amended Pub. L. 102–556, title IV, §402, Oct. 28, 1992, 106 Stat. 4194; Pub. L. 103–414, title III, §303(a)(11), (12), Oct. 25, 1994, 108 Stat. 4294; Pub. L. 108–187, §12, Dec. 16, 2003, 117 Stat. 2717; Pub. L. 109–21, §§2(a)–(g), 3, July 9, 2005, 119 Stat. 359–362; Pub. L. 111–331, §2, Dec. 22, 2010, 124 Stat. 3572.)
2010—Subsecs. (e) to (h). Pub. L. 111–331 added subsec. (e) and redesignated former subsecs. (e) to (g) as (f) to (h), respectively.
2005—Subsec. (a)(2) to (4). Pub. L. 109–21, §2(b), added par. (2) and redesignated former pars. (2) and (3) as (3) and (4), respectively. Former par. (4) redesignated (5).
Subsec. (a)(5). Pub. L. 109–21, §2(b)(1), (g), redesignated par. (4) as (5) and inserted “, in writing or otherwise” before period at end.
Subsec. (b)(1)(C). Pub. L. 109–21, §2(a), amended subpar. (C) generally. Prior to amendment, subpar. (C) read as follows: “to use any telephone facsimile machine, computer, or other device to send an unsolicited advertisement to a telephone facsimile machine; or”.
Subsec. (b)(2)(D) to (G). Pub. L. 109–21, §2(c)–(f), added subpars. (D) to (G).
Subsec. (g). Pub. L. 109–21, §3, added subsec. (g).
2003—Subsec. (b)(1). Pub. L. 108–187 inserted “, or any person outside the United States if the recipient is within the United States” after “United States” in introductory provisions.
1994—Subsec. (b)(2)(C). Pub. L. 103–414, §303(a)(11), substituted “paragraph” for “paragraphs”.
Subsec. (e)(2). Pub. L. 103–414, §303(a)(12), substituted “national database” for “national datebase” after “such single”.
1992—Subsec. (b)(2)(C). Pub. L. 102–556 added subpar. (C).
Effective Date of 2003 Amendment
Amendment by Pub. L. 108–187 effective Jan. 1, 2004, see section 16 of Pub. L. 108–187, set out as an Effective Date note under section 7701 of Title 15, Commerce and Trade.
Effective Date; Deadline for Regulations
Section 3(c) of Pub. L. 102–243, as amended by Pub. L. 102–556, title I, §102, Oct. 28, 1992, 106 Stat. 4186, provided that:
“(1) Regulations.—The Federal Communications Commission shall prescribe regulations to implement the amendments made by this section [enacting this section and amending section 152 of this title] not later than 9 months after the date of enactment of this Act [Dec. 20, 1991].
“(2) Effective date.—The requirements of section 227 of the Communications Act of 1934 [this section] (as added by this section), other than the authority to prescribe regulations, shall take effect one year after the date of enactment of this Act [Dec. 20, 1991].”
Pub. L. 109–21, §2(h), July 9, 2005, 119 Stat. 362, provided that: “Except as provided in section 227(b)(2)(G)(ii) of the Communications Act of 1934 [47 U.S.C. 227(b)(2)(G)(ii)] (as added by subsection (f)), not later than 270 days after the date of enactment of this Act [July 9, 2005], the Federal Communications Commission shall issue regulations to implement the amendments made by this section.”
Congressional Statement of Findings
Section 2 of Pub. L. 102–243 provided that: “The Congress finds that:
“(1) The use of the telephone to market goods and services to the home and other businesses is now pervasive due to the increased use of cost-effective telemarketing techniques.
“(2) Over 30,000 businesses actively telemarket goods and services to business and residential customers.
“(3) More than 300,000 solicitors call more than 18,000,000 Americans every day.
“(4) Total United States sales generated through telemarketing amounted to $435,000,000,000 in 1990, a more than four-fold increase since 1984.
“(5) Unrestricted telemarketing, however, can be an intrusive invasion of privacy and, when an emergency or medical assistance telephone line is seized, a risk to public safety.
“(6) Many consumers are outraged over the proliferation of intrusive, nuisance calls to their homes from telemarketers.
“(7) Over half the States now have statutes restricting various uses of the telephone for marketing, but telemarketers can evade their prohibitions through interstate operations; therefore, Federal law is needed to control residential telemarketing practices.
“(8) The Constitution does not prohibit restrictions on commercial telemarketing solicitations.
“(9) Individuals’ privacy rights, public safety interests, and commercial freedoms of speech and trade must be balanced in a way that protects the privacy of individuals and permits legitimate telemarketing practices.
“(10) Evidence compiled by the Congress indicates that residential telephone subscribers consider automated or prerecorded telephone calls, regardless of the content or the initiator of the message, to be a nuisance and an invasion of privacy.
“(11) Technologies that might allow consumers to avoid receiving such calls are not universally available, are costly, are unlikely to be enforced, or place an inordinate burden on the consumer.
“(12) Banning such automated or prerecorded telephone calls to the home, except when the receiving party consents to receiving the call or when such calls are necessary in an emergency situation affecting the health and safety of the consumer, is the only effective means of protecting telephone consumers from this nuisance and privacy invasion.
“(13) While the evidence presented to the Congress indicates that automated or prerecorded calls are a nuisance and an invasion of privacy, regardless of the type of call, the Federal Communications Commission should have the flexibility to design different rules for those types of automated or prerecorded calls that it finds are not considered a nuisance or invasion of privacy, or for noncommercial calls, consistent with the free speech protections embodied in the First Amendment of the Constitution.
“(14) Businesses also have complained to the Congress and the Federal Communications Commission that automated or prerecorded telephone calls are a nuisance, are an invasion of privacy, and interfere with interstate commerce.
“(15) The Federal Communications Commission should consider adopting reasonable restrictions on automated or prerecorded calls to businesses as well as to the home, consistent with the constitutional protections of free speech.”
|Romero v. Department Stores National Bank||9th Cir||February 2018||Article III Standing||Negative|
|Serban v. CarGurus, Inc.||District Court (IL)||February 2018||ATDS||Positive|
|ACA International v. FCC||DC Cir||February 2018||2015 FCC Order||Positive|
|Ferrer v. Bayview Loan Servicing||District Court (FL)||January 2018||ATDS||Positive|
|Lemieux v. Lender Processing Center||District Court (CA)||January 2018||Indemnification and Contribution||Negative|
|Patterson v. Ally Financial, Inc.||District Court (FL)||January 2018||Consent and Revocation||Negative|
|Rodriguez v. Student Assistance Corp.||District Court (NY)||December 2017||Revocation of Consent||Positive|
|Viggiano v. Kohl's Department Stores, Inc.||District Court (NJ)||December 2017||Revocation of Consent||Positive|
|Ginwright v. Exeter Financial Corp||District Court (MD)||December 2017||Class Certification||Positive|
|Linlor v. Five9, Inc.||District Court (CA)||December 2017||Vicarious Liability||Positive|
|Naiman v. TranzVia LLC||District Court (CA)||December 2017||Vicarious Liability||Positive|
|Selby v. Ocwen Loan Servicing||District Court (CA)||November 2017||Standing||Positive|
|Viggiano v. Kohl’s Dep’t Stores, Inc.||District Court (NJ)||November 2017||Consent, Means of opt-out||Positive|
|Ginwright v. Exeter Fin. Corp.||District Court (MD)||November 2017||Consent, means of opt-out||Negative|
|Farrish v. Navy Federal Credit Union||District Court (MD)||October 2017||Plaintiff failed to respond to defendant's motion to dismiss.||Positive|
|Treinish v. BorrowersFirst, Inc.||District Court (OH)||September 2017||Plaintiff claimed defendant made numerous collection calls on a debt, claims withdrawal of consent and bankruptcy breaks her contract, which requires arbitration. Defendant moved to compel arbitration, per the terms of the loan contract. Court agreed to compel arbitration.||Positive|
|Lundstedt v. IC Systems||District Court (CT)||September 2017||Plaintiff alleged harrassment after 29 calls placed to residence on VOIP phone.||Positive|
|Jones v. Royal Administration Services||9th Circuit||August 2017||Vicarious Liability||Positive|
|Michel v. Credit Protection Association||District Court (IL)||August 2017||Revocation of Consent||Positive|
|Arora v. Transworld Systems, Inc.||District Court (IL)||August 2017||ATDS||Positive|
|Schweitzer v. Comenity Bank||11th Cir||August 2017||Revocation of Consent||Negative|
|Daubert v. NRA Group, LLC||3rd Cir||July 2017||Prior Express Consent||Negative|
|Susinno v. Work Out World Inc.||3rd Cir||July 2017||Standing/Concrete Injury||Negative|
|Fulton Dental, LLC v. Bisco, Inc.||7th Cir||June 2017||Unaccepted settlement offer/Mootness||Negative|
|Borecki v. Raymours Furniture Co., Inc.||DC (NY)||June 2017||Arbitration/Class Action Waiver||Negative|
|Reyes v. Lincoln Automotive Financial Services||2nd Cir||June 2017||Revocation of Consent||Positive|
|Martinez v. TD Bank and Target||DC (NJ)||June 2017||Revocation of Consent||Positive|
|Reyes v. Lincoln Automotive||2nd Circuit||June 2017||Revocation of Consent||Positive|
|Krakauer v. Dish Network L.L.C||DC (NC)||May 2017||Vicarious Liability/Treble Damages||Negative|
|Kern v. VIP Travel Services||DC (MI)||May 2017||Vicarious liability||Positive|
|Zean v. Fairview Health Services||8th Cir||May 2017||Consent||Positive|
|Vanover v. NCO Financial Services, Inc.||11th Cir||May 2017||Claim Splitting||Positive|
|Geismann v. ZocDoc||2nd Circuit||March 2017||Unaccepted Offer of Judgment||Negative|
|Stauffer v. Navient Solutions, LLC||District Court (PA)||March 2017||Prior express consent||Positive|
|Duguid v. Facebook, Inc.||District Court (CA)||February 2017||Sufficiency of pleading ATDS||Positive|
|Brinker v. Normandin's||District Court (CA)||February 2017||Standing||Positive|
|Schlattmann v. PRA||District Court (MO)||February 2017||Calls to a non-debtor||Positive|
|Leyse v. Lifetime Entertainment||2nd Circuit||February 2017||Unaccepted Offer of Judgment||Positive|
|Leyse v. Lifetime Entertainment||2nd Circuit||February 2017||Class Certification||Positive|
|Cholly v. Uptain Group||District Court (IL)||February 2017||Standing, Class Actions||Negative|
|Dolemba v. Kelly Services, Inc.||District Court (IL)||January 2017||Consent||Positive|
|Ung v. Universal Acceptance||District Court (MN)||January 2017||Class Certification||Positive|
|Stevens-Bratton v. Trugreen, Inc.||Sixth Circuit||January 2017||Arbitration||Negative|
|Golan v. Veritas Entertainment, LLC||District Court (MO)||January 2017||Class certification||Negative|
|Van Patten v. Vertical Fitness Group, LLC||9th Circuit||January 2017||Consent and Revocation||Positive|
|Stein v. Monterey Financial Services, Inc.||District Court (AL)||January 2017||Class Certification||Positive|
|Petri v. Mercy Health||District Court (MO)||January 2017||Vicarious liability/Agency||Positive|
|Hunsinger v. Gordmans, Inc.||District Court (MO)||January 2017||Standing (Spokeo)||Negative|
|Richardson v. Verde Energy USA, Inc.||District Court (PA)||January 2017||Standing (Spokeo), definition of ATDS and Vicarious liability||Negative|
|Osgood v. Main Streat Marketing, LLC||District Court (CA)||January 2017||Standing (Spokeo)||Positive|
|Smith v. Blue Shield of California||District Court (CA)||January 2017||Standing (Spokeo)||Negative|
|Smith v. Blue Shield of California||District Court (CA)||January 2017||definition of telemarketing||Positive|
|Stamer v. Seas & Associates, LLC||District Court (IL)||January 2017||Vicarious liability/Agency||Negative|
|Wilkes v. Caresource Management Group Co||District Court (IN)||December 2016||Standing (Spokeo)||Negative|
|Horowitz v. GC Services LP||District Court (CA)||December 2016||Standing (Spokeo) and ATDS||Negative|
|Bridging Communities, Inc. v. Top Flite Financial Incorporated||6th Cir||December 2016||Class Certification||Negative|
|Chisholm v. AFNI||District Court (NJ)||November 2016||Prior express consent||Positive|
|Espejo v. Santander Consumer USA, Inc.||District Court (IL)||October 2016||What constitutes an ATDS||Negative|
|LaVigne v. First Community Bancshares||District Court (NM)||October 2016||Article III standing||Negative|
|Pozo v. Stellar Recovery Collection||District Court (FL)||September 2016||What constitutes an ATDS||Positive|
|Tuck v. Guardian Protection Services, Inc.||District Court (CA)||September 2016||ATDS and Consent||Negative|
|Lee v. LoanDepot||District Court (KS)||August 2016||Evidence of ATDS and willful violation||Positive|
|A.D. v. Credit One Bank||District Court (IL)||August 2016||Article III standing||Negative|
|Aranda v. Caribbean Cruise Line, Inc.||District Court (IL)||August 2016||Article III standing||Negative|
|Hewlett v. Consolidated World Travel||District Court (CA)||August 2016||Article III standing||Negative|
|Drozdowski v. Citibank, Inc.||District Court (TN)||August 2016||Arbitration||Positive|
|Romero v. Department Stores National Bank||District Court (CA)||August 2016||Article III standing||Positive|
|Carlisle v. Green Tree Servicing, LLC||District Court (GA)||July 2016||Use of ATDS||Positive|
|Sartin v. EKF Diagnostics, Inc.||District Court (LA)||July 2016||Article III standing||Positive|
|Smith v. Aitima Medical Equipment, Inc.||District Court (CA)||July 2016||Article III standing||Positive|
|Reyes v. Lincoln Automotive||District Court (NY)||June 2016||Contractual consent||Positive|
|Mey v. Got Warranty, Inc. et al||District Court (WV)||June 2016||Requirements for Article III standing||Negative|
|Stoops v. Wells Fargo Bank, NA||District Court (PA)||June 2016||Requirements for Article III standing||Positive|
|Dores v. One Main Financial||District Court (VA)||June 2016||Damages in default judgment||Positive|
|Ung v. Universal Acceptance Corporation||District Court (MN)||June 2016||Can tender of full compensation moot a class?||Negative|
|National Fire Insurance Company v. E. Mishan & Sons, Inc.||U.S. 2nd Circuit||June 2016||Duty to defend claim of knowing or intentional violation||Positive|
|Hudson v. Babilonia, SLM Corporation, Sallie Mae, Inc. et al||District Court (CT)||June 2016||Evidence required to prove the equipment at issue is an ATDS||Positive|
|Rivero v. America's Recovery Solutions, LLC||District Court (NY)||February 2016||Using ATDS to call cell number without prior express consent||Negative|
|Silver v. Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency||District Court (CA)||March 2016||Using ATDS to call cell number related to the collection of federally-funded student loan accounts||Positive|
|McCaskill v. Navient Solutions, Inc.||District Court (FL)||April 2016||Using ATDS to call cell phone without prior express consent||Negative|
|Swift v. Bank of America Corporation||District Court (FL)||April 2016||Using ATDS to call cell phone without prior express consent||Negative|
|Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC, Telephone Consumer Protection Act Litigation||District Court (CA)||April 2016||Using ATDS to call consumers without prior express consent||Negative|
|Chen v. Allstate Insurance Company||U.S. 9th Circuit||April 2016||Attempt to moot a settlement class, Using ATDS to call cell phone without prior express consent||Negative|
|Schwartz-Earp v. Advanced Call Center Technologies, LLC||District Court (CA)||March 2016||Express Consent Passing from Creditor to Agency||Positive|
|Strauss v. CBE Group||District Court (FL)||March 2016||Definition of ATDS||Positive|
|Baird v. Sabre, Inc.||U.S. 9th Circuit||February 2016||Prior Express consent given by providing number to creditor||Positive|
|Baisden v. Credit Adjustments, Inc.||U.S. 6th Circuit||February 2016||Prior Express Consent can be given indirectly||Positive|
|Norman v. AllianceOne Receivables Management, Inc.||U.S. 7th Circuit||December 2015||Admissibility of business records and what evidence is necessary to prove an ATDS||Positive|
|Roberts v. Pay Pal, Inc.||U.S. 9th Circuit||October 2015||Consumer provided prior express consent for text messages by giving his cell phone number||Positive|
|Dominguez v. Yahoo, Inc.||U.S. Third Circuit||October 2015||ATDS definiton, FCC July, 2015 Rules||Negative|
|Freyja v. D&B||District Court (CA)||October 2015||ATDS Definition||Positive|
|Leyse v. Bank of America||U.S. District Court, 3rd Circuit||September 2015||Intended Recipient of call||Negative|
|Miceli v. Orange Lake Country Club, Inc.||District Court of Florida||August 2015||Attorney representation, Revocation of consent||Negative|
|Murphy, et al. v. DCI, et al.||11th Circuit||August 2015||Prior express consent||Positive|
|Luna v. SHAC, LLC, dba Sapphire Gentlemen's Club; et al.||District Court California||August 2015||Definition of ATDS (internet to phone text messaging), human intervention||Positive|
|King v. Time Warner Cable||Distict Court, New York||July 2015||Definition of ATDS, capacity||Negative|
|Modica v. Green Tree Servicing, LLC.||District Court Illinois||April 2015||Definition of ATDS, capacity||Positive|
|Glauser v. GroupMe||District Court (CA)||February 2015||Are text messaging applications ATDSs?||Positive|
|Balschmiter v. TD Auto Finance||District Court (WI)||December 2014||Express consent to dial cell numbers||Positive|
|Estrella v. LTD Financial Services, LP||District Court Florida||November 2014||Definition of ATDS, human intervention||Positive|
|Nigro v. Mercantile Adjustment Bureau||U.S. 2nd Circuit||October 2014||Express consent to dial cell numbers||Negative|
|Mais v. Gulf Coast Collection Bureau||U.S. 11th Circuit||September 2014||Express consent to dial cell numbers||Positive|
|Penn v. NRA Group, LLC||District Court (MD)||July 2014||Express consent to dial cell numbers||Positive|
|Hudson v. Sharp Healthcare||District Court (CA)||June 2014||Express consent to dial cell numbers||Positive|
|Osorio v. State Farm Bank||U.S. 11th Circuit||March 2014||Express consent to dial cell numbers||Negative|
|Baird v. Sabre, Inc.||District Court (CA)||February 2014||Informational text messages||Positive|
|Murphy v. DCI Biologicals Orlando||District Court (FL)||January 2014||Informational text messages||Positive|
|Chyba v. First Financial Asset Management||District Court (CA)||November 2013||Express consent to dial cell numbers||Positive|
|Stockwell v. Credit Management||Superior Court (CA)||October 2013||Using autodialer to call cell number||Positive|
|Roy v. Dell Financial Services||District Court (PA)||July 2013||Does TCPA apply to collection calls||Positive|
|Mais v. Gulf Coast Collection Bureau||District Court (FL)||May 2013||Express consent to dial cell numbers||Negative|
|Meyer v. Portfolio Recovery Associates (as amended)||U.S. 9th Circuit||December 2012||Express consent to dial cell numbers||Negative|
|Soppet v. Enhanced Recovery Company||U.S. 7th Circuit||May 2012||Express consent to dial cell numbers||Negative|
|Leckler v. Cash Call||District Court (CA)||November 2008||Express consent to dial cell numbers||Positive|
Important TCPA Documentation
TCPA Omnibus Declaratory Ruling and Order - July 2015
The full text of the FCC's Omnibus Declaratory Ruling and Order. Individual commissioner statements are listed below:
- Commissioner Clyburn Statement
- Commissioner O'Rielly Statement
- Commissioner Pai Statement
- Commissioner Rosenworcel Statement
- Commissioner Wheeler Statement
The Commission responded to requests from businesses and attorneys general for guidance on robocall blocking, autodialers, recycled phone numbers, and more. This 3/2 decision: allowed telephone service providers to offer robocall-blocking technology; granted consumers to revoke express consent in any reasonable way and at any reasonable time; prohibits the use of automatic telephone dialing systems to call wireless phones and to leave prerecorded telemarketing messages on landlines without consent; and affirmed that consent survives when a consumer ports his number from a land to a wireless phone.
FCC Declaratory Ruling on TCPA for Debt Collection - January 2008
The famous FCC ruling that seemingly paved the way for the use of autodialers in calling cell phones for debt collection purposes, if the number was provided by the consumer. Made in response to a request from trade group ACA International, the ruling's impact has evolved over time with various court rulings, but still stands as an official FCC position.
Independent Study on TCPA Reform - July 2013
A study published by Quantria Strategies that makes a compelling case that data no longer supports the enforcement of the TCPA as it was originally written. The study was used as the basis of an analysis prepared by ACA International will recommendations for TCPA regulators moving forward.
The FCC, at the request of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, filed this brief explaining "express prior consent" to call a cell number for the purpose of debt collection. The agency explored some nuance in its 2008 TCPA declaratory ruling while clarifying another declaratory ruling from earlier in 2014.