The Telephone Consumer Protection Act restricts certain telephone calls to residential lines. Among other provisions, the TCPA provides that “it shall be unlawful for any person . . . to initiate any telephone call to any residential telephone line using an artificial or prerecorded voice to deliver a message without the prior express consent of the called party . . .”
The Federal Communications Commission is currently seeking public comment on what constitutes a “Residential Line” under the TCPA. As part of the firm’s TCPA practice, we make sure to monitor the latest developments and decisions by government agencies with regard to consumers.
Some courts have ruled that “residential lines” do not include residential telephone lines that are used for business purposes by the subscriber. Using this ruling, consumers using their home telephone both for business and for personal uses are not protected from harassing and intrusive telemarketing calls. The decision by the FCC could have far-reaching implications for telemarketers who may be calling what they believe to be a business telephone number but which is actually classified as a residential line by the telephone service provider.
Advocates for increased protection for the residential lines argue that there is no public policy basis to distinguish between residential lines for personal purposes versus business purposes. Because the TCPA is a “strict liability” statute, the risk should be placed on the telemarketers.
The FCC is currently seeking public comment on whether the FCC should “(1) establish such a bright-line test for identifying a “residential line” under the prohibition against unconsented-to calls using an artificial or pre-recorded voice, (2) adopt some other bright-line test to identify such lines, or (3) identify some other method, such as a multi-factor analysis, for determining whether a telephone line is a “residential line” for purposes of the artificial/prerecorded voice call prohibition.”
Individuals working from home often choose to use a residential line to avoid harassing and annoying telemarketing phone calls. If you are a small business owner using a residential telephone number as your primary business number, the ultimate decision by the FCC could have a lasting impact for your home and business. Consider contacting the FCC to comment on this important TCPA matter. Comments are allowed until May 2, 2016. More information and instructions on how to comment can be found here.