This article was originally published in Venable's All About Advertising Law Blog.
In the most recent installment of the Batman movie franchise, The Dark Knight Rises
, Anne Hathaway's character, Selina Kyle, whispers ominously into Bruce Wayne's ear, "There's a storm coming, Mr. Wayne. You and your friends better batten down the hatches . . ." Hathaway was forecasting the onslaught of villains who, shortly thereafter, stormed Gotham and wreaked havoc. On October 21, 2015, the FCC issued a press release putting telemarketers on notice that a similar Telephone Consumer Protection Act ("TCPA") storm, indeed, is coming their way.
More specifically, the FCC announced that it will release the robocall and telemarketing consumer complaint data it receives on a weekly basis, ostensibly "to help developers build and improve 'do-not-disturb' technologies that allow consumers to block or filter unwanted calls and texts." The ramifications of the release of: (i) advertiser's business telephone number; (ii) caller ID number; (iii) whether the recipient received an autodialed call or prerecorded message; and (iv) whether the call was abandoned, among other things, are obvious. Such data is a treasure trove for the plaintiffs' bar, and there will likely be a significant uptick in TCPA class action complaint filings across the country.
Despite the FCC's admission that it "does not verify all of the facts alleged in these complaints," that surely will not deter the filing of many class actions. Telemarketers should ensure that their telemarketing compliance programs are strong, but still batten down their hatches and brace for the storm that may be coming their way.