ACA Releases White Paper Highlighting the Unintended Consequences of the TCPA as it Fails to Adapt to Consumer Use of Modern Technology


5/31/2017 1:00:00 PM

ACA Releases White Paper Highlighting the Unintended Consequences of the TCPA as it Fails to Adapt to Consumer Use of Modern Technology

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ACA International, the Association of Credit and Collection Professionals, released a white paper, Unintended Consequences of an Outdated Statute: How the TCPA Fails to Keep Pace with Shifting Consumer Trends, which examines how the Telephone Consumer Protection Act’s (TCPA) antiquated understanding of technology results in some consumers receiving a disproportionate number of telephone calls while others are almost entirely excluded from receiving legitimate business communications. The paper also updates TCPA litigation statistics.

“It has long been ACA’s assessment that the TCPA has failed to adjust to modern communications technology and evolving consumer preferences,” Pat Morris, ACA International’s CEO, said. “Not only has this failure exposed legitimate businesses to an exponential growth of TCPA lawsuits, but as this white paper demonstrates, it has unintentionally resulted in certain consumers who possess wireless-only telephones from receiving important information while at the same time incentivizing more calls to those consumers who rely solely on landline telephones.”

Indeed, data from the National Center for Health Statistics indicated that as of December 2016 a majority of American homes (50.8 percent) were wireless-only. This means that a majority of American households now have no landline in the home and exclusively use wireless communication devices. There are also significant generational differences in those homes that are wireless-only relative to those that still have a landline. For example, 72.7 percent of 25-29 year-olds live in a wireless-only household. However, only 23.5 percent of consumers over the age of 65 live in a wireless-only household.

Additionally, 76.5 percent of individuals aged 65 and over live in households with a landline. Because of these dramatic differences in wireless-only households across age groups, attempted compliance with the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) broad interpretations of the TCPA will likely result in certain consumers receiving a disproportionate number of business-related phone calls while other segments of the consumer population are almost entirely excluded. Specifically, if a company only calls consumers who possess a landline telephone in an effort to minimize potential TCPA liability, they are more likely to contact consumers 65 years of age or older.

As noted in an earlier white paper, The Imperative to Modernize the TCPA: Why an Outdated Law Hurts Consumers and Encourages Abusive Lawsuits, ACA found that TCPA litigation has become something of a cottage industry, with attorneys’ fees for a TCPA class action settlement averaging $2.4 million in 2014. Furthermore, TCPA litigation has consistently increased year-after-year. Data from 2015 showed that TCPA lawsuits increased 948 percent between 2010 and 2015.

In ACA’s new white paper, data from 2016 shows an even more dramatic increase in TCPA litigation. Between 2010 and 2016 there was a 1,273 percent increase in litigants; between 2015 and 2016 alone the total number of litigants increased 32 percent.

In light of these findings, ACA argues that modernization of the TCPA will ensure consumers are not deprived of normal, expected and desired information; will provide clarity for businesses to engage in targeted, beneficial communication with specific consumers; and free the courts to attend to the needs of real victims of harassment and abuse.

ACA International’s research initiative aims to collect more original data about the credit and collection industry. The goal of this exclusive research and analysis is to continue to quantify the ways that debt collectors help consumers and the overall economy.

ACA International (ACA), the association of credit and collection professionals, is the largest membership organization in the credit and collection industry. Founded in 1939, ACA brings together third-party collection agencies, law firms, asset buying companies, creditors and vendor affiliates, representing tens of thousands of industry professionals. ACA produces a wide variety of products, services and publications, including educational and compliance-related information; and articulates the value of the credit and collection industry to businesses, policymakers and consumers. www.acainternational.org.

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