On June 18, 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) approved new rules that further clarify the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”), including the use of automatic telephone dialing technology.
The new rules mandate:
Phone service providers are allowed to provide autodial blocking technology to their customers.
Consumers may revoke their consent to be contacted via phone call or text message in “any reasonable way at any time.” Text messages are considered to be calls under the TCPA.
In circumstances involving a reassigned phone number, a company may only contact the new number holder once before a penalty is assessed. This applies to wireless and landline phones.
Companies are prohibited from using an automatic telephone dialing system to call wireless phones or to leave prerecorded marketing messages on landlines without consent.
The party being called — not from the intended recipient — must provide the consent to be contacted.
A consumer whose name is in the contact list of an acquaintance’s phone does not consent to receive robocalls from third-party applications downloaded by the acquaintance.
In addition, the FCC affirmed the TCPA’s definition of autodialer as “any technology with the capacity to dial random or sequential numbers.” The FCC also clarified that any equipment used to send Internet-to-phone texts is an autodialer.
The FCC carved out limited and specific exemptions to the TCPA, including:
Free calls or texts that alert consumers to possible fraud on their bank accounts or provide important healthcare messages (i.e., medication refills) are allowed without prior consent. Marketing-related financial or healthcare messages or debt collection calls are not allowed. Consumers also have the right to opt out of these permitted calls.
The National Do-Not-Call Registry is still in effect.
Political calls will be subject to the new rules, but will continue not to be subject to the Do-Not-Call Registry because they are not considered telephone solicitations.
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