Public service text messages are becoming an increasingly popular method of communicating important information to constituents, employees, parents and students.  The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) restricts telephone calls and texts that are sent by an automatic telephone dialing system without consent of the called party.  In cases of emergency, these calls are exempt from the TCPA.

In 2015 the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) interpreted the TCPA.  Under this interpretation, the FCC does not distinguish between telemarketing and public information, such as school closures.  Consent must come from the called party, not the intended recipient of the call.  Having the wrong number is not an excuse under the interpretation.  There is however a one-call exception for non-marketing calls.  Under this exception, if the called person says the number is reassigned or does not answer the phone, then all subsequent calls to that number violate the TCPA.  You may obtain consent from the consumer to send calls and text messages.  Consent to receive calls and text messages may be revoked by the consumer at any time.

The FCC’s intent was to protect consumers from unwanted calls and texts.  In doing do they have exposed those with a legitimate need to notify constituents, employees, parents and students to potential fines and lawsuits.

After more than one phone call has been received within a 12 month time period by the same entity, a person may file action within State court.  The fine is $500.00 for each violation.  A willful or knowing violation may have a fine of up to $1,500.00 per violation.  A person may also bring an action to stop the calls.  The FCC has cited to a report stating that over 2,000 class action lawsuits were filed in 2014.

Please be aware of these restrictions so that you may limit exposure to liability.

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