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Published: Mar. 18, 2019 | Blog

Sending SMS message becomes a criminal offense?

The TRACED Act (S. 151), a bill in legislature reintroduced in January 2019, which encourages the FCC and other federal agencies (FTC, CFPB, DOJ, and Homeland Security) to increase enforcement of the TCPA. In essence if this bill becomes a law, FCC can increase fines up to $10,000 and may be able to seek criminal penalties for violators. Although this bill is introduced to curtail Robocalls but it will impact SMS text messages as it is considered as a phone call in the eyes of TCPA.

If the bill is passed, it will truly change the landscape of SMS and outbound call telemarketers. There will be new authentication process to verify the data for carriers and it will probably cost marketers in the process. It may even encourage more opportunity for consumer lawyers who use the statute against legitimate businesses to extract multimillion-dollar settlements.

So far, TCPA violation is limited to a civil lawsuit, if Traced Act passes, it may become full-blown criminal charges as DOJ, or Department of Justice may get involved.


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