On September 22, 2011, the Mobile Informational Call Act of 2011, H.R. 3035, was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Reps. Lee Terry (R-NE) and Edolphus Towns (D-NY), joined by Reps. John Shimkus (R-IL) and Jim Matheson (D-UT). This landmark legislation will amend the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) in order to update it for 21st Century communications and business practices.
Our hope is that with the support of ACA International and other major trade associations, such as banks and lenders, electric utilities, the airline industry and university administrators, this legislation will become law.
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) was enacted in 1991. This legislation imposes restrictions on the use of automated telephone dialing equipment, “auto-dialers” and artificial or prerecorded voice calls to make non-emergency calls to wireless phone numbers, without the prior express consent of the called party.
The primary focus of the TCPA was to protect consumers from unwanted telemarketing calls. There is no question that consumers should be protected from unwanted telemarketing calls, but this prohibition is totally unjustified as it applies to non-solicitation calls. Many collection agencies, including TSC, utilize “auto-dialers” to assist them in their effort to collect unpaid accounts for their clients.
Twenty years later, wireless phones are everywhere! In fact a recent study by the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that 40% of US Households rely primarily on their wireless phones and this number is growing substantially every year.1 In addition, consumers pay significantly less on a per minute basis for mobile services today than they did in 1991.
Furthermore, assistive technologies benefit both businesses and consumers alike when used to convey timely information and for other non-solicitation purposes. Many businesses call their customers to inform them about fraud alerts, service changes, doctor’s appointments and transactional-related information. These calls, among other things, make consumers aware of threats such as unauthorized use of their credit cards, notification of flight changes, appointments and cancellations just to name a few.
By utilizing assistive technologies, businesses are able to make these calls quickly and efficiently, and convey accurate information. As a result, the current blanket prohibition by the TCPA on the use of such technologies to call wireless numbers imposes significant and unwarranted costs and inconveniences on businesses, consumers, and the economy as a whole.