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Autumn Telemarketing Regulations: A Cornucopia of Enforcement and Litigation

A cornucopia with gourds and fruit spilling out

Posted by Chris Alarie on Wed, 11/17/2021 - 10:38

Thanksgiving is coming up soon and marketers may well find themselves thankful that they are not in regulatory hot water like the callers in the following cases.

PAC Sued for TCPA Violations

The Law Enforcement for a Safer America Political Action Committee has been sued for alleged violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The organization, which claims to raise money for political candidates who support pro-police policies, is alleged to have used soundboard technology in donation solicitation calls that were made without proper consent. If true, this would be a clear violation of the TCPA’s autodialer restrictions.

Of course, what seems more concerning are the allegations that the organization is not actually forwarding much of the money it collects to political candidates, instead using inflated operations budgets to line the pockets of the individuals who run the PAC. But as we saw with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) fine against Jacob Wohl for his voter-suppression robocalls, TCPA violations can be used as a convenient substitute for or addendum to more substantive, difficult-to-enforce legal actions and regulatory oversight.

Non-ATDS, Non-DNC TCPA Lawsuit

The most notable sources of TCPA litigation are automatic telephone dialing system (ATDS) violations and violations of the Do Not Cal (DNC) provisions. But, as Eric Troutman at TCPAWorld points out, those are far from the only things that the TCPA regulates. In Schweitzer v. Energy, the plaintiff alleges violations of two of the lesser-known provisions of the TCPA:

  • Initiating telephone calls and failing to transfer to a live sales agent within two seconds of a called party’s completed greeting, in violation of 47 C.F.R. § 64.1200(a)(7)(i);
  • Failing to disconnect unanswered telemarketing calls to Plaintiff prior to at least 15 seconds or four (4) rings, in violation of 47 C.F.R. § 64.1200(a)(6).

The court did not grant summary judgment to the defendant on these claims, allowing the case to proceed. As Troutman explains in his post, the court actually seems to have misunderstood the intention of the “failure to disconnect within 15 seconds” provision, getting it more or less backwards. But it remains notable that these lesser-known sorts of violations are a source of TCPA risk.

Mississippi Sends Notice of Alleged Violation to Callers

Mississippi’s Public Service Commission and Office of the Attorney General sent out Notices of Alleged Violation (NAV) to eight companies accused of violation the state’s DNC law. The eight companies—AM Protection, Inc.; Straight Marketing; Student Loan Financial Assistance, LLC; Thrio Inc.; Crisp Marketing, LLC; Transparent BPO, LLC; Vacation Tour and Travel; and Zealous Services, Inc.—are accused of calling consumers whose numbers are on the state’s DNC list, generating 180 consumer complaints.