Maryland “Mini-TCPA” Approved
On May 3, 2023, Governor Wes Moore approved the Maryland “mini-TCPA” (Stop the Spam Calls Act of 2023). Like its mini-TCPA predecessors in Florida* and Oklahoma, the bill goes beyond the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) by:
- Prohibiting telephone solicitations that involve an automated system for the selection OR dialing of telephone numbers, to both cells and landlines, without prior express written consent
- Restricting calls to between 8:00 am and 8:00 pm
- Limiting calls to three within 24 hours on the same subject matter
- Including the rebuttable presumption that a solicitation made to telephone numbers with a Maryland area code is made to a resident or person in the state at the time
Express Written Consent
The Maryland “mini-TCPA” also defines “prior express written consent” to mean an agreement that:
- Bears the consumer’s “signature”
- Discloses and authorizes the call, text, or prerecorded voicemail via an automated system, recorded or artificial voice message when a connection is completed, or prerecorded voicemail
- Includes the consumer’s phone number
- Discloses the consumer is not required to sign the agreement nor is it a condition of purchasing any property, goods, or services
The bill contains some exemptions, including:
- Solicitations that are isolated transactions and not performed in the course of a pattern of repeated transactions of a similar nature
- Noncommercial solicitations for religious, charitable, political, or educational purposes
- Business-to-business sales where the solicitor has been operating for at least three years under the same name
- Persons who solicit contracts for the maintenance or repair of goods previously purchased from the person making the solicitation or on whose behalf the solicitation is made
- Single solicitations made to a customer or client in response to an inquiry or request from the customer.
- Communications between a business and a customer that have an existing business contract or relationship if the communication is initially intended for informational purposes and turns into a solicitation call based on an inquiry from the customer
Unique among mini-TCPA laws, a violation would appear to constitute an unfair or deceptive trade practice, which is a misdemeanor and punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 ($5,000 for each subsequent offense) or one-year imprisonment, or both. Injunctive relief or civil damages may also be awarded.
The law will become effective on January 1, 2024.
CompliancePoint has the expertise to help any organization ensure their marketing practices comply with all applicable laws and regulations. To learn how we can help your organization, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*It is noteworthy that the Florida legislature passed an amendment to its mini-TCPA revising the “selection OR dialing” language to “selection AND dialing,” thereby narrowing the definition of an automated system to more closely align with the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The bill is now in the Governor’s hands. If signed into law, which is expected, it will be interesting to see if Oklahoma and Maryland follow suit.
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