Enacted in 1991 to protect consumers from receiving unsolicited telemarketing calls and faxes, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act regulates and restricts the manner in which a business may advertise its products and services to consumers, including via cellphones and fax machines. Among other things, the TCPA prohibits the use of an “automatic telephone dialing system” or an “artificial or prerecorded voice” to call or send text messages to cell phones without the prior express consent of the called party. This rule applies to both telemarketing and nontelemarketing calls, including debt collection or informational calls. The TCPA is a strict liability statute that awards $500 per violation and up to $1,500 per willful violation, penalties that were designed to empower individual consumers to seek redress in small claims court. The Federal Communications Commission is charged with rulemaking authority by the statute and has the discretionary authority to reinterpret those rules as technology evolves.
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