The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) is a federal law that was enacted on December 20, 1991 to address consumer concerns about the growing volume of unsolicited telephone marketing calls. The FCC adopted rules and regulations, effective December 20, 1992, implementing the TCPA.
The TCPA imposes restrictions on the use of automatic telephone dialing systems, (these systems are also called auto-dialers) artificial or prerecorded voice messages, and telephone facsimile (fax) machines to send unsolicited advertisements. The TCPA also directed the FCC to adopt regulations to protect residential telephone subscribers' privacy rights to avoid receiving telephone solicitations to which they object. Different rules and regulations apply to calls placed to homes and calls placed to businesses.
The FCC's rules prohibit the transmission of unsolicited advertisements to fax machines. No person may transmit an advertisement describing the commercial availability or quality of any property, goods, or services to your fax machine without your prior express permission or invitation.
Specific types of calls or faxes:
- a live telephone solicitation call at your home from a person or entity -- or on behalf of a person or entity -- on two or more occasions within any 12-month period after the time you requested to be added to their do-not-call list;
- an artificial or prerecorded voice call at your home in violation of the FCC's rules;
- an unsolicited advertisement on your fax machine; or
- auto-dialed calls that simultaneously engage two or more multi-line business lines.
Here are some actions consumers can take:
- Ask the solicitor to stop calling your telephone number or sending unsolicited fax advertisements. You can use the telephone number or address provided by the solicitor to request this action.
- Find out if your state permits you to file suit to stop solicitation calls or faxes and/or file suit for actual monetary loss. The penalty is $500 in damages or actual monetary losses (whichever is greater).
To file a complaint, send a letter including the following information:
- Your name, address, and daytime telephone number.
- The action you are requesting, such as requesting a person or business to:
- stop calling your home telephone number;
- add your name to their do-not-call list;
- stop sending unsolicited advertisements to your fax machine; or
- stop placing auto-dialed calls that simultaneously engage two or more of your company's multi-line business telephone lines.
- The date you requested to be added to the organization's do-not-call list, and the name of the individual you spoke with.
- The home or business telephone number the solicitor called.
- The name, address, and telephone number of the organization placing the calls.
- The dates and times you received calls or fax messages from the organization.
- The telephone number of the fax machine to which unsolicited advertisements were sent.**Copies of any unsolicited advertisements sent to your fax machine.
- Whether or not you have filed suit in state court, including the state where any such suit was filed.
Federal Communications Commission
Consumer Information Bureau
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20554
(888) CALL-FCC (225-5322)
(866) 418-0232 Fax
(888) 835-5322 TTY
(844) 432-2275 ASL Videophone
The FCC cannot award monetary or other damages, except under very limited circumstances. However, you may send a typed or legibly printed letter regarding suspected violations of the TCPA or the FCC's rules.
Publications Available: FTC - What You Can Do About Unsolicited Telephone, Marketing Calls and Faxes, and FTC - Telemarketing Sales Rule