FCC’s TCPA Call Exemption Limitation Final Rule Set to Take Effect in March

Today, the Federal Communications Commission published its Final Rule (“Rule”) based on its December 22, 2020 Report and Order (“Order”) in the Federal Register. That Order placed limitations on calls that had previously been exempted by the FCC (“Exempt Calls”), including limiting the number of calls to a residence or using a prerecorded or artificial voice. With its publication, certain provisions of the Rule will become effective on March 29, 2021. The others have been delayed indefinitely, and the FCC has allowed six months to comply with the numerical limits and opt-out requirements once the other rules are approved.

The Order was the result of a mandate in the Pallone-Thune Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act (TRACED Act) that the FCC review and codify, in the TCPA, rules for prior Exempt Calls. The Order clarifies the specifics of the exemptions, like caller and called party requirements, and sets a limitation on the number of Exempt Calls a caller can place. The Order also makes it clear that a called party can request not to receive further Exempt Calls and that the request must be honored by the caller.

The classifications of calls that are affected by the Order and Rule and the corresponding call limits are as follows.

Exempt Calls to Wireless Numbers (Effective Date March 29, 2021)
  • Healthcare provider calls: One healthcare treatment call per day, up to a maximum of three calls combined per week.
  • Financial institution calls: No more than three calls per event over a three-day period for each account affected by financial exigent circumstances.
  • Package delivery calls: One notification for each package, with one additional notification for up to two follow-up attempts to obtain a recipient’s signature if needed for delivery.
  • Certain inmate calling service calls: No more than three notifications following an unsuccessful collect call.
Prerecorded Messages or Artificial Voice Calls To a Residence (Delayed Indefinitely)

The Order limits the calls to no more than one HIPAA-related call per day up to a maximum of three HIPAA-related calls per week. For all other exempt calls, no more than three calls within any consecutive 30-day period.

  • HIPAA calls: Includes HIPAA-related calls that deliver a healthcare message.
  • Non-Commercial calls to a residence: Includes calls that do not have the purpose of advertising or marketing commercial products or services like calls conducting research, market surveys, political polling, or similar noncommercial activities.
  • Commercial calls to a residence that do not constitute telemarketing: Includes calls that have a commercial purpose, but do not include an advertisement or constitute telemarketing like prescription refill reminders and power outage updates.
  • Tax-Exempt nonprofit calls: Includes tax-exempt nonprofit organization calls to a residence.

* Aaron Parry contributed to this post.