Western Union will pay $8.5 million to settle allegations that it violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act by sending unsolicited text messages asking consumers to opt in to receive regular updates from the company. 

The plaintiffs allege that they never consented to receive Western Union’s initial opt in text during a marketing campaign in 2009 and that the company therefore violated the TCPA by sending unsolicited advertising texts through equipment capable of storing and randomly generating telephone numbers, also known as autodialing equipment. 

Western Union countered that the message didn’t constitute advertising and was instead a request to see if people wanted to get advertising texts. As such, express written consent was unnecessary, according to company officials.

The settlement between Western Union and the more than 800,000 class members is reportedly double the next highest TCPA settlement in terms of award per class member. An estimated $3 million of the $8.5 million settlement will be directed to attorneys in the case.

The FCC broadly defines autodialing equipment and requires, under the TCPA, that companies obtain express written consent from consumers before sending text advertisements through autodialers. 

The FCC issued a declaratory ruling on the TCPA in July and Collections & Credit Risk has extensively covered the issue. Recently, Neustar released "Where Efficiency Meets Compliance: Using Data to Drive Revenues and Reduce TCPA Risk" - a whitepaper on the topic. The report reviewed a survey of senior executives and managers with authority over calling operations on the data, technology and protocols they use.

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