COVID-Related Texting, Calls OK, Says FCC

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The FCC confirmed that certain calls and text messages made by or on behalf of commercial labs, health insurers, physicians, and pharmacies that communicate with individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 are exempt from the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The agency specifically refers to calls or texts to provide individuals with information regarding donating their plasma after recovering.

Such calls during the ongoing pandemic do not require prior express consent to be lawful, according to the FCC. Autodialed, prerecorded, and artificial voice calls made for “emergency purposes” fall within the “emergency purposes” exception to the TCPA. 

On March 20, the Bureau confirmed the COVID-19 pandemic constitutes an “emergency” under the TCPA and hospitals, health care providers, state and local health officials, and other government officials may lawfully communicate, through automated calls or texts to wireless numbers, information about the novel coronavirus as well as mitigation measures.

The exception does not include automated calls that contain advertising or telemarketing of services or that attempt to collect debt. Those calls don’t “affect the health and safety of consumers,” according to the Commission, and are not directly related to an imminent health or safety risk. That means those calls or texts require prior consent from the called party.

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