With some 35 million phone numbers disconnected and then made available for reassignment to new consumers each year, unwanted calls inevitably occur when a caller tries to reach a consumer who expects a call, but, unbeknownst to the caller, has disconnected the number. In addition to aggravating the current subscriber, often with multiple calls or texts, the activity exposes the caller to potential liability under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).
To address this problem, on December 12, 2018 the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission), as part of a multifaceted effort to curb the tide of unwanted telephone calls and texts, approved a Second Report and Order (R&O) that directs establishment of a single, comprehensive reassigned number database that can be consulted by callers to avoid making such calls. In addition, callers who use the database will be sheltered from TCPA liability if the database is in error (e.g., erroneously indicates a number has not been reassigned). While it will take time to set up the database and use will not be free, this is a significant step in the effort to remedy the problems associated with reassigned numbers.