Although most businesses do not abuse telephones and other technology when communicating with their customers and other consumers, the telephone is a favorite tool of telemarketers and scammers seeking to convince older consumers, in particular, to part with their money.
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) is a federal law (statute) that helps consumers challenge abusive solicitation methods. For example, the TCPA limits robocalls, SMS/text messages, and junk faxes.
The TCPA’s protections are especially important for older adults who receive frequent calls from medical providers but may be discouraged from picking up the phone due to excessive or unwanted solicitations. The TCPA is located in the United States Code, beginning at 47 U.S.C. §227.
The TCPA restrictions that are most important to older consumers are:
• A prohibition on making or sending autodialed or prerecorded voice calls and SMS/text messages to cell phones and other sensitive numbers without the prior express consent of the party called;
• A prohibition on certain prerecorded calls (primarily telemarketing calls) to residential lines without prior express written consent;
• A requirement that telemarketers maintain company-specific do-not-call lists, and refrain from calling consumers who ask that particular caller to stop calling;
• A prohibition on telemarketing calls to consumers who place their names on the nationwide do-not-call list;
• Disclosure requirements regarding the purpose of telemarketing calls;
• Restrictions on abandoned calls and calling times;
• A prohibition on caller ID blocking; and
• A prohibition on faxing unsolicited advertisements.
The TCPA also prohibits using an automatic telephone dialing system or an artificial or prerecorded voice to call a patient or guest room at a nursing home, hospital, or similar health facility.