The Telephone Consumer Protection Act could stand to be updated

Some say that the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) is trapped in a time warp. When it was signed into law in 1991, lawmakers hoped that it would decrease telemarketers’ calls made to Americans on their home phones lines. We currently live in an era in which half of all Americans rely exclusively on cell phones though. Enforcement is difficult. This is especially the case since TCPA hasn’t been updated since it was written.

Since these laws haven’t been updated in decades, many business owners have gotten sued for violating TCPA when maybe they didn’t knowingly do anything wrong. In recent years, defendants from the health care, education, solar, retail and security industries have been sued as part of class-action lawsuits by multiple plaintiffs who’ve received texts, faxes and calls.

Recently, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Congress and different judges have all called for lawmakers to modernize TCPA. Specifically, they’ve asked for better clarification on what an Automated Telephone Dialing System (ATDS) is. A District of Columbia Circuit Court judge recently described the FCC’s description of auto-dialers as too broad, as it may cover most calls made from iPhones.

Last year, members of the Senate sent a letter to the FCC Chairman noting that many businesses are trying to act in good faith, yet they lacked clarity about the TCPA. They noted that this has resulted in many consumers not receiving communication that they may need and want. Senators requested the FCC’s help in interpreting and clarifying the TCPA.

By the end of 2018, the FCC chairman had proposed to create a database of reassigned numbers that courts could utilize to better determine who the bad actors are. In the press release announcing its existence, they noted that the expectation is that this database would protect businesses with legitimate reasons for contacting customers from being sued.

Many Vadnais Heights residents were successful in eliminating telemarketers’ calls soon after TCPA was passed by doing away with their landlines. Deceptive individuals posing as government, businesses and charity workers have found new ways to reach consumers on their cell phones though.

Their goal is often to get an individual’s personal information to steal their identity, something that can take years to reverse. An attorney can advise you of steps that you can take in Minnesota if your privacy has been invaded.

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