According to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, only “residential telephone subscribers” possess a right of action for violations of the Do-Not-Call registry.
Specifically, 47 U.S.C. § 227(c)(1) directs the FCC to promulgate DNC regulations to “protect residential telephone subscribers’ privacy rights to avoid receiving telephone solicitations to which they object.” 47 C.F.R. § 64.1200(c)(2) prohibits telephone solicitation calls to “[a] residential telephone subscriber who has registered his or her telephone number on the national do-not-call registry.”
But what about numbers that are used for both residential and business purposes?
In Chennette v. Porch.com, Inc. (50 F.4th 1217 (9th Cir. 2022)), the Ninth Circuit recently held that a fact-specific inquiry into each separate telephone number is required in order to determine whether a mixed-use telephone line is “residential.”
Here, the plaintiffs were home improvement contractors that allegedly received unsolicited text messages from Porch.com and its subsidiary, GoSmith that offered leads. Numerous plaintiffs purportedly registered their telephone numbers on the national DNC registry but allegedly received over 2,000 text messages. As a result, the plaintiffs filed suit in federal court alleging violations of the TCPA based upon use of an automated telephone dialing system to send automated text messages and violations of the DNC registry prohibitions.
The defendants filed a motion dismiss. They argued that the plaintiffs lacked standing to sue under the TCPA because their telephone numbers are used for personal and business purposes.
The Ninth Circuit reversed the lower federal court ruling.
In doing so,
On November 2, 2022, the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging that a group of companies offering lead generation services violated the Telemarketing Sales Rule and Pennsylvania consumer protection law. Specifically, the OAG alleges two unlawful advertising practices.
The first unlawful ad practice allegation is that the defendants utilized deceptive online advertisements to direct consumers to websites where they would purportedly be tricked into providing contact information and survey responses. The second unlawful ad practice allegation claims that consumers’ contact information and responses were sold to telemarketers despite numbers being on state of national Do No Call registries.
As stated in the complaint, defendants operate “dozens of websites designed for lead generating” that advertise “gift cards to popular retailers and digital payments to mobile apps” for answering various survey questions. According to the OAG, the websites require visitors to provide personal contact information and click a box indicating consent to mouseprint disclosures stating that consumer will receive prerecorded calls and text messages from marketing partners (the names thereof are disclosed to by a hyperlinked list). According to the OAG, these sellers’ products and services are oftentimes not related to the promotional offerings whatsoever.
Here, according to the OAG’s complaint, the websites violate state consumer protection law because they “create a likelihood of confusion or of misunderstanding” by “failing to include clear and conspicuous disclosures advising consumers that by registering their contact information with defendants they are purportedly consenting to be contacted by multiple third party sellers,
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Hinch Newman LLP’s advertising and marketing practice includes successfully resolving some of the highest-profile Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and state attorneys general digital advertising and telemarketing investigations and enforcement actions. The firm possesses superior knowledge and deep legal experience in the areas of advertising, marketing, lead generation, promotions, e-commerce, privacy and intellectual property law. Through these advertising and marketing law updates, Hinch Newman provides commentary, news and analysis on issues and trends concerning developments of interest to digital marketers, including FTC and state attorneys general advertising compliance, civil investigative demands (CIDs), and administrative/judicial process. This blog is sponsored by Hinch Newman LLP.