TCPA: Where Do We Go From Here?

Tell me if you have heard this before, “the main issue hampering the debt collection industry right now is TCPA reform.”  Or is it?  Is reform the right word to be using, maybe it should be replaced with clarification?  Depositphotos_21940017_xsReform is a daunting task, one that would consist of legislators on both sides of the aisle actually agreeing on something or at least coming close.  As we continue to see the bitter battles over anything and everything in Washington, D.C. reform seems highly unlikely anytime soon.

So that brings us to clarification, seeking to simply clarify the law by the Federal Communication Commission seems like the avenue with the most likely opportunity for a positive outcome.  The FCC knows they need to clarify the law, they even admitted as much in their 2008 ruling.  The problem is that was almost seven years ago.

Understanding this information, I have reached out to U.S. Senators and members of the House of Representatives over the last several months to get their feel for TCPA clarification possibilities and possible reform.  As you might imagine the response wasn’t very favorable to our cause but it has certainly shed light on the complexity of the issue.

The last chance we had at TCPA reform itself was with the Mobile Informational Call Act of 2011 (2011H.R.3035).  According to the legislators offices I spoke with, they stated the primary reason the law had difficulty advancing was because of the tremendous amount of consumer group concern.  That concern translated into negative press and thus scared off any members of the House. Even the sponsor of the bill went as far as to write a letter to the Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee urging that the bill not move forward.  It should be noted that most of the time committee chairmen don’t want to make their members take a difficult vote unless they are absolutely certain that it will get through the Senate.

So with the Mobile Informational Call Act of 2011 dead, I inquired with other legislator’s offices about the prospect of that style of legislation moving forward in Congress.  The consensus was that there isn’t any chance at all getting the language we are looking for considered in the current congressional environment.  This is just the opinion of a few, but these few support updating the TCPA and believe in our cause.  The positive aspect of the introduction of the Mobile Informational Call Act of 2011 was that its introduction created the implication that there is a needed remedy to address the definition of an “automated telephone dialing system” and “expressed business relationship.” So where do we go from here?

We have to understand the TCPA issues we face are very difficult and complex issues that have and could continue to take a long time to get moving.  At the same time, the debt collection industry can’t let their foot off the gas, if anything we need to crank it up even more.  We have to stay positive in the face of the negative rulings, interpretations, and case law that come down and continue to fight for the right to collect rightfully owed debts by responsibly utilizing the latest technology without worry about dire consequences.

Any shot of TCPA clarification or reform moving forward will undoubtedly mandate a middle ground to be found between the debt collection industry and consumer advocate groups.  It is also critical that members of the debt collection industry continue to stay educated on these issues and get involved from a local, state, and federal level.  Explaining to legislators the importance of what we do and also detailing just how unnecessarily costly TCPA issues are affecting you directly.  Take the time to explain the negative impacts the inability to freely call cell phones using an advanced telephone system is hurting consumers at the same time.

For more information on how you can get involved and understand the difference you can make, feel free to contact me at (636) 547-2655 or nick.jarman@deltaoutsourcegroup.com