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Business alerts, | Jul 10, 2015

FCC UPDATE: New Rules for Businesses that Contact Customers via Phone & Text Message 

(Ruling issued 7-10-15)

In July, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) published its Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) Omnibus Declaratory Ruling. In effect, the new Ruling places heavy burdens on businesses that use electronic telephone systems to reach consumers via phone calls or text message.The TCPA permits the FCC to regulate telephone solicitation and the use of automatic telephone dialing equipment (“Autodialers”), including phone calls and text messages to consumers. Among its provisions, the TCPA prohibits the use of Autodialers to call or text an individual without his or her prior express written consent. However, the TCPA’s broad and imprecise definition of an Autodialer, along with its silence on what constitutes prior express written consent, creates problems for businesses that face civil liability under the TCPA (up to $500 per call that violates the rules).

Business owners should beware. While the July ruling effectively clarifies the FCC’s interpretation of the TCPA, it now also favors consumers by placing substantial burdens on businesses that call or send text messages to consumers with electronic dialing equipment. For example, consider the following:

#1 Expanded Definition of Autodialer.
The Ruling states that an Autodialer is any equipment that has the current or future capacity to dial random or sequential numbers. This definition includes any equipment that could potentially be used to randomly dial numbers, including computer-based VOIP telephone systems, smartphones with application support and computer-based text messaging software, regardless of the current configuration of those devices.

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As always, let us know if we can help or if you have any questions.

Sincerely,Charles Van Horn
Shareholder, Berman Fink Van Horn P.C.

Business alerts, | Jul 10, 2015