In 1934 The United States enacted into federal law The Communications Act of 1934. The law replaced the Federal Radio Commission with the Federal Communication Commission. The law also transferred the regulation telephone service from the Interstate Commerce Commission to the Federal Trade Commission. The law remained intact for almost sixty years, when in the early 1990's; the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 was enacted. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 was an amendment to The Communications Act of 1934.
The Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) is a federal law that was created due to increased consumer concern and complaints. These complaints were lodged through the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The complaints were made in regards to the use of telephones for solicitation purposes. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act is the primary law in the USA pertaining to telephony. The law governs the conduct and use of the telephone, mainly pertaining to solicitations. These solicitations primarily are referred to as telemarketing. The TCPA restricts many of the methods of solicitations. These restrict the use of automatic dialing systems. ADS are the IVR or prerecorded voice messages. It also restricts the use of SMS text messages received by cell phones. There are limitations and requirements that restrict the use of fax machines to send unsolicited advertisements. The act deals with specific technical requirements for auto dialers, fax machines, and voice logging systems. Within the act, there are provisions that require the identification and contact information of the solicitor must be displayed in the method of contact.
Unless the recipient has given prior express consent, the TCPA and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules under the TCPA generally require:
Solicitors may not call residences before 8 a.m.
or after 9 p.m., local time.
The solicitor must maintain a "Do Not Call" (DNC) list, which must be honored for 5 years.
Solicitors must 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.
Solicitation calls cannot be made to residences with artificial voices or recordings.
Calls cannot be made with artificial voices or recordings to cell phones or to any service in which the recipient is charged for the call.
Prerecorded or auto dialed calls cannot engage two or more lines of a multi-line business or to any emergency number.
In a related section, unsolicited advertising faxes are also prohibited.
In the event of a violation of the TCPA, individuals are entitled to collect damages directly from a solicitor for $500 to $1,500 for each violation, or recover actual monetary loss, whichever is higher.
The TCPA was designed to limit the annoyances of unwanted intrusion on businesses and consumers that go along with unsolicited marketing. The Federal Communication Commission uses its authority under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) to enforce the restriction or limitation of the use of the telephone for unsolicited marketing. The FCC established and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have worked tirelessly to ensure that no one misuses or intrudes on another's privacy or personal property. Together in 2003 the two agencies established a national Do-Not-Call Registry. This national registry covers the entire United States and its' territories. The registry is a list of individuals who do not wish to be bothered by solicitors. The rules apply to all telemarketers. Any company, with the exception of pre-approved non-profit organizations must adhere to these rules. These laws apply to interstate and intrastate telemarketing calls. It is illegal for companies or their telemarketing representatives are not allowed to call a person whose phone number is on the registry. These are blanket rules with very little exceptions. Because of this registry consumers are able reduce the number of unwanted sales calls to their homes. This action has virtually crippled most type of business to consumer telemarketing. Telemarketing companies must answer for the actions of their predictive dialers. Fax marketing and junk fax have been virtually eliminated through the actions of the TCPA.
While the laws do restrict certain freedoms, they also protect the privacy and respect the time of the consumer. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act is a protection against unwanted annoyance. The law has forced companies to explore alternate means of marketing and has greatly affected the multi-billion dollar outbound telemarketing industry.