Magazine article CRM Magazine

FCC Updates TCPA with Greater Protection against Robocalls: New Rules Broaden the Definition of Robocalls and Give Consumers More Opt-Out Options

Magazine article CRM Magazine

FCC Updates TCPA with Greater Protection against Robocalls: New Rules Broaden the Definition of Robocalls and Give Consumers More Opt-Out Options

Article excerpt

In early July, a New York federal judge ordered Time Warner Cable to pay Araceli King of Irving, Tex., $229,500 for bombarding her with more than 153 robocalls between July 2013 and August 2014.

The calls were intended for Luis Perez, who had opened an account with Time Warner using King's same phone number. King called the company to complain several times, but the calls kept coming.

In his ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Alvin Hellerstein determined that each call was a violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) of 1991 and awarded King $1,500 per call, triple the usual penalty.

A few days later, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) further strengthened the law to provide even greater protection to the millions of American consumers who get telemarketing robocalls all the time.

The new rules, which went into effect July 10, bar companies from using autodialers or other devices that automatically call random or sequential numbers. They also mandate that companies honor customers' requests to stop receiving robocalls and allow consumers to revoke prior authorization at any time. Also under the new rules, telephone service providers can issue to their subscribers technology that blocks robocalls, and companies cannot make more than one call to numbers that have been reassigned to another customer, regardless of whether the previous holder of that number authorized the calls. That was what had happened in King's case.

The new rules, do, however, make limited exemptions for certain calls or text messages that would not require prior consent from the consumer. The exemption would apply, for example, to certain healthcare or banking communications, such as important health notices, prescription refill reminders, potential fraud alerts, or identity theft warnings. This limited exception allows three calls over three days per event, but still gives consumers the option of opting out at any time.

Most charities and political campaigns are also exempted from the rules.

The new rules apply equally to text messages. The law also emphasizes that "express written permission is required to call wireless telephone numbers. …

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