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.
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.