Amended Connecticut Telemarketing Law Establishes $20,000 Fine on Illegal Calls, Texts and Media Messages Automatic Telephone Dialing Systems Not Required

Perhaps an indication of a future trend by state legislators across the country to combat the reported increase of unsolicited text messages and prerecorded calls (also known as “robocalls”), Connecticut broadened the scope of its telemarketing laws to explicitly prohibit “text and media messages” among the types of proscribed voice and prerecorded calls made for marketing and advertising purposes without prior express written consent. The amended law became effective October 1, 2014.

A “text and media message” is defined in the revised law as “a message that contains written, audio, video or photographic content and is sent electronically to a mobile telephone or mobile electronic device telephone number.” The new law expressly excludes messages sent to a traditional electronic mail address; however, email sent via a wireless email address may still be subject to the new law since a wireless email’s domain name is converted to a mobile telephone number during transmission. It is unclear whether the definition of “text and media messages” includes push notifications delivered through a mobile device application.

What is significantly different about the new law is that the definition of “text and media messages” is technology-neutral – the targeted messages do not have to be sent using an automatic telephone dialing system (ATDS) or have the capacity for automatic dialing. TCPA and the FCC’s rules prohibit any call (including a text message with media content or attachments) made to a mobile device in the absence of an emergency or prior express consent of the called party using equipment that has the capacity of being an ATDS. This new Connecticut approach requires that alltext and media messages for marketing and sales purposes sent to a mobile number be subject to prior express written consent, whether the message was autodialed or not. This proscription also eliminates what has been a major defense in enforcement litigation – the fact that an autodialer was not used.

Connecticut increased the maximum fine that may be imposed for each violation by the state’s Department of Consumer Protection from $11,000 to $20,000. Comparably, FCC fines for TCPA violations are $16,000 per violation. These fines are in addition to any other penalties imposed under the new Connecticut law. Like TCPA, there remains a right to private lawsuits under Connecticut’s Unfair Trade Practice statute. However, unlike TCPA (which carries statutory damages in the amount of $500 and treble damages if willful), damages under the Connecticut law are limited to actual damages. Punitive damages may be awarded at the discretion of a court.

If you have any questions or comments, or desire additional information about federal and state telemarketing rules, please contact S. Jenell Trigg at or 202.416.1090, or any attorney in our office.