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New robocall regulations likely to spark deluge of litigation

As of mid-October, the FCC requires “prior express written consent” under new changes.

With less than 24 hours until Election Day, many voters are ready for the incessant campaigning and robocalls to cease. Robocalls are automated calls that voters and consumers receive from political candidates and businesses to push their respective campaigns. They are also used by healthcare providers to communicate appointment reminders and other notifications to patients.

Industry experts say that new telemarketing regulations that require companies to obtain written consent before placing robocalls to consumers’ cell phones are likely to generate a “flood of litigation, especially when you consider that class action lawsuits filed under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) are already on the rise under previous regulations,” The Hill noted in a recent blog post.

“Everyone is getting sued right now under the TCPA, and the new regulations are just going to make it worse,” Becca Wahlquist, a partner at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, told The Hill.

The TCPA places limits on unsolicited prerecorded telemarketing calls to landline home telephones, and all autodialed or prerecorded calls to wireless numbers, emergency numbers, and patient rooms at healthcare facilities.

As of mid-October, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires “prior express written consent” under new changes. Written consent can be made via a Web-based form, an email or text message.

The FCC also eliminated an exemption to the consent requirements that allowed telemarketers to place prerecorded calls to residential lines belonging to consumers “with whom the caller has an established business relationship.”

The number of lawsuits claiming TCPA violations increased by roughly 40 percent over the past two years, from 824 in 2011 to 1,332 so far in 2013, according to WebRecon, a firm that tracks litigation data.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been aggressively pursuing enforcement against companies who violate FTC “Do Not Call” requirements and recent more stringent rules regarding robocalls will provide the FTC with even more ammunition and targets for enforcement.

 

For more on this heated regulatory issue, check out InsideCounsel’s coverage below:

Regulatory: New technologies, new risks

Regulatory: FTC annual highlights reveal key trends

Regulatory: CFPB, DOJ collaborate in actions against debt settlement company

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Erin E. Harrison

Erin E. Harrison is the Editor in Chief of InsideCounsel magazine. Harrison’s professional background includes extensive expertise in both print and online media, highlighted by...

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