According to changes to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act ("TCPA"), which went into effect on October 16, 2013, telemarketers must now obtain prior express consent before contacting a consumer's wireless or landline telephone numbers using automated telephone dialing systems. Do you list your wireless telephone number for your contact information with credit card companies, banks, or utility providers? Do you receive unsolicited phone calls on your wireless telephone number regarding promotions or billing information? Are you concerned with protecting your identity and privacy? Are you a company that uses telemarketing calls to solicit customers and increase your business? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, the latest changes to the TCPA may affect you. Please contact us today to speak with an attorney who can explain how these new amendments will alter your telephone communication privacy settings and responsibilities.
What are the New Requirements Under the Amendments to the TCPA?
Pursuant to the provisions of the new amendments, to obtain prior express consent, telemarketers must have consent in writing. Under the federal Electronic Signatures In Global and National Commerce Act ("ESIGN"), digital signatures that comply with the standards of the act will count as sufficient consent in writing. Next, the consent must specifically refer to the telephone number that the consumer authorizes as a point of contact for future telemarketing calls. Additionally, the written consent must clearly state that the consumer authorizes telemarketers to use prerecorded messages and automated telephone dialing systems in future communications. Finally, if a consumer is required to provide this consent in order to purchase any goods or services, then the consent is not valid. All four factors must be satisfied in order to have valid consent under the TCPA.
How Will These Amendments Affect Consumers and Businesses?
Even in cases where a consumer already has a business relationship with a company, that company must still acquire consent for future telemarking calls. This places the burden on companies to ensure that their business practices comply with the current, more stringent, requirements of this federal law. Accordingly, companies will be responsible for providing their customers with unambiguous disclosure statements to satisfy the requirements. All companies will also have to implement accurate record-keeping systems now to ensure, and be able to prove, that they have sought proper consent from consumers.
These new amendments also provide consumers with even greater opportunity to seek legal remedies where companies violate their privacy rights. Under 47 U.S.C. § 227(c)(5), plaintiffs can seek $500 to $1,500 for each violation of any of the factors of the new TCPA. For example, each time a company calls a customer using an automated telephone dialing systems, without seeking prior express consent the consumer can seek monetary damages. As a result, companies may be at risk of getting caught up in very costly and extended litigation for even the most minor violations. Various telemarketing companies are currently involved in litigation regarding what equipment qualifies as an automated telephone dialing system and is subject to the new requirements. Indeed, these companies may replace or modify any such equipment to avoid accidental violations of the new standards. This precautionary step may help avoid costly litigation in the event of a violation.
At the Law Offices of Salar Atrizadeh, we guide clients in legal matters involving any changes in federal communication standards by using extensive knowledge and skills to create innovative solutions. You may contact us to set up a free and confidential consultation.