Many Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) lawsuits have been based on “wrong numbers” or numbers which have been disconnected and reassigned. This is because callers only have consent to place calls to intended recipients—not the person with the reassigned number. The FCC has made efforts to create a centralized database for companies to identify whether a cellphone number has changed ownership, as currently, there’s not a 100% reliable source for this. The consent restriction under the TCPA remains effective, but once the new database is operational, callers may scrub against the list to take advantage of a safe harbor from TCPA violations.
The FCC has announced that telephone service providers are required to report permanent disconnections information to the Reassigned Numbers Database beginning April 15, 2021. Several smaller providers will have until October 15, 2021 to comply with the reporting requirement. This marks the beginning of the FCC’s effort to build a reliable database that will be accessible by telemarketers to prevent inadvertent calls to reassigned numbers.
At some point after April 15th, the FCC will make this database available to callers to protect themselves from placing such calls, specifically in situations where the consumer provides prior express consent for calls to their telephone number, but then later gives up control of that number. Unfortunately, the date is not yet confirmed on when companies can access the reassigned numbers database. We will continue to monitor the status of the database and provide updates when available.