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What is the Telephone Consumer Protection Act

Telephone Consumer Protection Act, 47 U.S.C.§ 227

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) was passed by the United States Congress and signed in to law in 1991. The law restricts telephone solicitations and the use of automated dialing systems, artificial or pre-recorded voice messages, SMS text messages, and fax machines.  It also specifies several technical requirements for fax machines, auto-dialers, and voice messaging systems - principally with provisions requiring identification and contact information of the entity using the device to be contained in the message.

Unless the recipient has given prior express consent, the TCPA:

  • Prohibits solicitors from calling residences before 8am or after 9pm, local time.
  • Requires solicitors maintain a company-specific "do not call" (DNC) list of consumers who asked not to be called; the DNC request must be honored for 5 years.
  • Requires solicitors honor the National Do Not Call Registry.
  • Requires solicitors provide their name, the name of the person or entity on whose behalf the call is being made, and a telephone number or address at which that person or entity may be contacted.
  • Prohibits solicitations to residences that use an artificial voice or a recording.
  • Prohibits any call made using automated telephone equipment or an artificial or prerecorded voice to an emergency line (e.g., "911"), a hospital emergency number, a physician's office, a hospital/health care facility/elderly room, a cellular telephone, or any service for which the recipient is charged for the call.
  • Prohibits auto-dialed calls that engage two or more lines of a multi-line business.
  • Prohibits unsolicited advertising faxes.
  • In the event of a violation of the TCPA, a subscriber may (1) sue for up to $500 for each violation or recover actual monetary loss, whichever is greater, (2) seek an injunction, or (3) both.
  • In the event of a willful violation of the TCPA, a subscriber may sure for up to three times the damages, i.e. $1500, for each violation.