The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), dates back to 1991 when few people owned or used mobile phones. For the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), implementing the TCPA to protect consumers in a mobile-first society has proven problematic.
Since 1991, the pace of changes in communications technology in the U.S. has accelerated, and statistics show that most Americans have given up landline telephones in favor of mobile devices. Additional research shows that American consumers now increasingly prefer to communicate via text message.
In an attempt to address the proliferation of new devices and applications, the FCC in June 2015 approved its controversial “TCPA Omnibus Declaratory Ruling and Order”—regulations that prompted a court case with potentially far-reaching implications for consumer finance companies.
In its March 2018 ruling in ACA International v. FCC, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals — among other determinations and directives — ordered the FCC to reconsider its definition of an Automatic Telephone Dialing System (ATDS) as laid out in the 2015 Omnibus Order. According to the court, the FCC’s expansive definition of an ATDS could be applied to a smartphone, thereby making almost all Americans potential TCPA violators based on everyday cell phone use.
As a result, the FCC was asked to clarify its guidance regarding the technology companies can use to communicate with borrowers, and what that communication can look like. All of this will have a major impact on TCPA cases and company liability.
Preparing for Changes in the Near Future
The D.C. Circuit’s decision and resulting uncertainty have created an especially dynamic situation for vehicle finance companies, who must comply with strict limitations on how they can reach out to existing and potential customers on their cell phones while keeping tabs on the upcoming changes.
Until the FCC issues new, clarified rules, finance companies can take several steps to prepare for the new era of telecommunications regulation, such as:
- Staying informed of the latest developments
- Keeping thorough documentation
- Choosing the right compliance partner
Download LenderLive’s new whitepaper, “No Reception,” for a full picture of how mobile communications regulation has changed and may continue to change as a result of the TCPA case.
At LenderLive, we help the nation’s largest vehicle finance companies comply with consumer protection laws and operationalize compliance in an always evolving regulatory environment.Like This Post