What is the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)?
In an effort to manage a growing number of telephone marketing calls, Congress established in 1991 the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The TCPA restricts the making of telemarketing phone calls as well as the use of automatic telephone dialing systems and artificial or prerecorded voice messages. The rules apply to common carriers as well as to other marketers. In 1992, the Commission adopted rules to implement the TCPA, including the requirement that companies making telephone solicitations establish procedures for maintaining company-specific do-not-call lists.
Most recently, in 2012, the FCC modified its TCPA rules to require telemarketers (1) to acquire prior express written permission from consumers before robocalling them, (2) to no longer permit telemarketers to use an "established business relationship" to avoid acquiring permission from individuals when their home phones, and (3) to require telemarketers to offer an automated, interactive "opt-out" mechanism during each robocall so consumers can immediately tell the telemarketer to quit calling.
Previously, in 2003, the FCC revised its TCPA rules to create, in coordination with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a national Do-Not-Call registry. The national registry is nationwide in scope, covers all telemarketers (with the exception of particular nonprofit organizations), and applies to both interstate as well as intrastate phone calls. The registry took effect on October 1, 2003, and is administered by the FTC. To reduce the amount of hang-up and dead air calls individuals experience, the Commission's telemarketing rules also have restrictions on using auto dialers and requirements for transferring caller ID information.