Sorry – I must have dialed the wrong number

If a customer has changed their phone number, especially their mobile number, without telling you it can make for trouble under the TCPA.

Remember when that was all you needed to say if you reached someone other than the person you intended? Unless you made the call at 3AM, the person on the other end would accept your apology with a polite “that’s ok” and that would be that.

Ahh, those were the days.

The days before class action attorneys started using wrong number calls as justification for a lawsuit under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which are up 70% year over year according to data provided by WebRecon LLC.

United Healthcare wants to go back to the way things were. It’s not that they’re a nostalgic bunch; in fact as a provider of health and wellness services to over 75 million individuals, they’re a leading innovator in the area of engaging customers in the management of their own health.

This means they like to communicate with their customers, reminding them to get a flu shot, get a check up, refill their prescriptions etc. To do so efficiently, they may choose to use modern technology like predictive dialers, interactive voice messages and SMS text messages. And since United Healthcare wants to do things right, they’re also getting their customer’s prior express consent for such communications.

But if a customer they’re trying to reach has changed their phone number, especially their mobile number, without telling United Healthcare, it can make for trouble under the TCPA. That’s because the FCC’s rules have been interpreted as saying a customer’s consent to calls ends if they change their phone number, and if you then reach someone else at that number, they can sue you.

That’s why United Healthcare has filed a petition asking the FCC to issue a declaratory ruling that companies are not liable under the TCPA for informational, non-telemarketing autodialed and prerecorded calls to wireless telephone numbers that have been reassigned without the caller’s knowledge – as long as the caller previously obtained “prior express consent” to place calls to that specific telephone number.

I guess since a simple “I’m sorry” is no longer sufficient, I am going to tell the FCC that I support United Healthcare’s petition. If you want to join me, it’s easy – just click this link and tell the FCC you think as long as companies have the prior express consent of their customers, they should be able to attempt to contact them at the phone numbers they have provided until they learn the customer is no longer there.

The FCC can just consider it their way of saying “that’s OK”.


For more information on the TCPA and how it affects customer communications, please visit


wrong_number by KPBS

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Brian Moore

About Brian Moore

Brian Moore, senior principal, industry solutions of Nuance’s Enterprise division, brings more than 30 years of experience in financial services, mortgage and collections operations and technology to the company. He is also our resident compliance expert, advising companies on the TCPA, FDCPA, TSR and other regulations impacting customer engagement.