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Telephone Consumer Protection Act Suits on the Rise

Over the past several months, consumer attorneys nationwide have noticed a steady incline of Telephone Consumer Protection Act ("TCPA") being filed against collection agencies.  According to a survey taken over the past year, lawsuits filed under the TCPA have continued a steady increase rising by as much as 15% from August of 2012 and almost 65% for the entire year.  Moreover, the Federal Communications Commission ("FCC"), Federal Trade Commission ("FTC") and Better Business Bureau ("BBB") recently demonstrated increased interest in enforcing TCPA guidelines.

Since its inception, the TCPA was considered to be a statute enforced through small claims courts, however more recently, the statute has been used to assert class action claims against collection agencies violating the law.  The most common types of private claims brought under the statue are texting as a means of sending promotional campaigns, placing pre-recorded voice messaging calls in an effort to collect debt and fax advertising. 

In addition to private enforcement actions, the FCC and FTC have increased their enforcement of the TCPA.  With the rise in violations, Congress enabled the FCC to further regulate the TCPA.  Taking action to protect consumers, the FCC now requires that pre-recorded voice telemarketing and advertising calls have opt-out mechanisms and that business receive prior written consent from consumers for pre-recorded voice telemarketing or advertising calls to cellular and land line phones (this consent may be received by sending an initial text message or pre-recorded call).

Additionally, both the FCC and FTC have taken matters into their own hands regarding the increased number of complaints from consumers about TCPA violations.  In a recent summit, the FTC announced a hefty financial reward to the first developer of software that could block "robo-calls" to both cell phones and land lines. 
 
While the purpose of the TCPA was to restrict marketing calls and text messaging by prohibiting communication using automated systems, artificial callers, or pre-recorded voice messages without first receiving express consent, based on the increase in law suits, it appears businesses have no intention of slowing down as evidenced by the increase in lawsuits under the TCPA.

If you believe you have been the victim of violations of the TCPA contact SmithMarco, P.C. for a free case review.

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