The End of Prerecorded Messages?

One aspect of the FCC’s Declaratory Ruling (addressing various issues under the TCPA) that hasn’t received a lot of headlines is the FCC affirming that nothing in their rules prohibits phone companies or carriers from offering technology that would allow consumers to block unwanted “robocalls” or prerecorded messages delivered via an ATDS. As a result, it’s likely phone companies and carriers are already diligently working to make call blocking technology available to consumers.

However, the FCC isn’t the only supporter of call blocking technology. The FTC recently awarded a company $25,000 for winning the FTC’s Robocalls: Humanity Strikes Back contest. The winner of the contest, RoboKiller, built a mobile app that blocks and forwards robocalls to a crowd-sourced honeypot. According to the FTC, a honeypot is an information system that may be used by government, private and academic partners to lure and analyze robocalls. We expect the FTC to use the information in the honeypot to identify companies that violate the prerecorded message rules and to subsequently take action against those companies.

Besides the FTC taking enforcement action, companies also need to be aware of class actions. The increase in TCPA-related class actions has been astronomical. According to FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, the number of TCPA cases filed each year skyrocketed from 14 in 2008 to 1,908 in the first nine months of 2014.

Finally, if the risk of a class action isn’t enough to get companies to comply, it looks like the FCC may start to increase their level of enforcement against companies that violate the TCPA as evidenced through the FCC’s recently issued $2.96 million fine for illegal robocalls.

With the emergence of apps like RoboKiller and call blocking technology expected to soon be available from phone companies, businesses that have relied upon prerecorded messages will likely need to adjust their consumer contact methods. Even if the company obtains prior express written consent from the consumer to send the message, there is no guarantee the message would make it past the call blocking technology.

We understand the various and evolving requirements impacting your consumer contact activities can be difficult to navigate and to accommodate into existing compliance efforts. For more information regarding prerecorded messages, the impact of the TCPA, or any of the state or federal consumer contact requirements, please reach out to us at

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