On Nov. 1, the Federal Communications Commission’s reassigned numbers database, or RND, will go live. Use of the database can provide safe haven protection from Telephone Consumer Protection Act liability if used according to FCC guidelines.
Specifically, a caller that can demonstrate that it checked a number against the database before calling is shielded from TCPA liability if the database returns an inaccurate result.
On Dec. 12, 2018, the FCC adopted an order establishing a database whose purpose is to allow callers to verify, before placing a call, whether a telephone number has been reassigned to a different subscriber. The FCC instituted the RND as one means of reducing unwanted robocalls and improving the ability of companies and other institutions to reach their customers, patients, students and others.
The problem addressed by the RND may arise when, for example, a school seeks to reach a parent to deliver an automated message about a school closing.
The school dials the most recent number it has on file, but at some point after the parent provided the number to the school, the parent may have disconnected the number. A disconnected number can be reassigned by the telephone carrier to someone else. When the school makes the call to a now-reassigned number, the parent misses an important message about the school day, the actual recipient receives a nuisance call and the school is frustrated in its attempt to reach a student’s family.
With the availability of the RND, the school could check the number before calling it and determine that the number had been permanently disconnected since the date that the parent provided it, thereby preempting the call and avoiding a nuisance to an unrelated consumer.
In this Law360 article, Debra Aron discusses the implications of the reassigned numbers database for class action TCPA cases and, in particular, for class certification in those cases.