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Use of Pre-Existing List of Numbers Does Not Qualify as Automatic Telephone Dialing System in Violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act

Relying on the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Facebook, Inc. v. Duguid, the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina has found that Bank of America, N.A.’s system used to place alleged debt collection calls does not qualify as an Automatic Telephone Dialing System (“Autodialer”) as defined in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”).  Barnett v. Bank of America, N.A.

Barnett claimed that Bank of America had called him approximately 300 times in 2019 in an attempt to collect a debt.  Barnett asserted that the bank’s telephone system, which used numbers selected from a preexisting list created based on criteria from the dialer administrators, qualified as an Autodialer under the TCPA, and that the bank’s calls therefore violated the statute.

Relying on the Supreme Court’s Facebook TCPA case, the Court held that the telephone system did not meet the statutory definition.  Pursuant to the Supreme Court’s holding, to qualify as an Autodialer, “whether storing or producing numbers to be called, the equipment in question must use a random or sequential number generator.”

Where Barnett relied on testimony from bank employees that the numbers were selected from an existing list based on administrator criteria, the Court found that the numbers called were not selected by random or sequential number generators.  Accordingly, telephone systems that generate calls in any manner other than random or sequential number generators do not qualify as Autodialers under the TCPA.

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