TCPA Settlements Prove Costly
Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) compliance is no joking matter for call centers of any size. Finding your business on the wrong side of the FCC regulations can result in hefty fines. In 2014, Bank of America (BoA) had the unfortunate and highly publicized, distinction of paying out one of the largest Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) settlements ever assessed to a single company in the history of the act – to the tune of $32 million. In six different class actions, BoA was accused of disregarding TCPA regulations by making unauthorized calls and texts to cell phone numbers using automated dialing equipment. That same year Capital One, in a consolidated class action settlement with three other companies, agreed to pay $75 million. Clearly, TCPA regulations are not to be taken lightly. But are businesses taking these lessons to heart?
Acquiring AllegationsThe TCPA makes it easy for consumers to file a complaint and pursue litigation against perceived violators. With the sheer number of consumers across the country affected, there are several collective nationwide movements that work together to ensure companies like BoA comply with TCPA rules regarding auto dialers and calls made without active consent. In this case, BoA received a warning from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to stop violating the telephone and texting rules several years prior to the class actions. The FCC determined that they continued to use prohibited methods, and the company was eventually hit with the six class actions that resulted in the settlement of $32 million.
TCPA Lawsuit SettlementBOA denied all allegations and argued that they obtained the required “prior express consent” before their calls. However, just as many small call centers struggle with the ambiguous meaning of the term “prior express consent,” so do larger corporations. In this case, BoA’s method for recording prior express consent was found not in compliance with the updated TCPA regulations. They were left with little choice but to pay a hefty settlement to consumers—even after developing “significant enhancements” to prevent unauthorized calls in the future.
TCPA Today and TomorrowAccording to data compiled by Web Recon, LLC, TCPA litigation has increased by nearly 60% since the AT&T suit was settled in 2014. In 2016 alone, 4860 new suits were filed. Like most laws, the interpretation and enforcement of the TCPA is frequently challenged. In February of 2017, the FCC released a petition for public comment that questions the current interpretation of the “prior express consent” clause that BoA was found to be violating. Even the smallest change of the interpretation of that clause would create widespread compliance issues for many companies, from small businesses to Fortune 500 corporations.
Lesson Learned?Even with full knowledge of the consequences and a clear understanding of the TCPA rules, it is possible for businesses to fall back on business processes that allow mistakes to continue. Again last April, BoA agreed to settle a $1 million class-action lawsuit brought in response to – you guessed it – violating the TCPA express written consent requirement.
The reality is that no matter how big or small your call center, TCPA compliance is critical to maintaining a healthy bottom line, and the penalties for violations could easily break your business. Find out how solutions like Vox CNI (Cell Number Identification) can protect your business from TCPA violations.