Are you looking for more information surrounding TCPA regulations and what you should remember about the Telephone Consumer Protection Act?
You’re in the right place.
This blog post will enhance your TCPA understanding and provide you with a ready-to-implement in-depth TCPA checklist.
Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) compliance can be tricky to navigate, especially if your business relies on communicating with consumers.
However, your company must operate in a way that adheres to the TCPA rules and regulations. Failure to do so results in your business being issued with a hefty fine of $500 or more. In fact, there’s no cap on statutory damages. That means that thousands of violations can result in millions in penalties.
Even if your company didn’t intend to breach the TCPA compliance laws, you could still be issued with such fines. Consequently, it’s imperative to know how to avoid breaching TCPA compliance.
Here are 5 things your company can do to stay within the law and to avoid TCPA violations:
Recording calls to prove you comply with the TCPA regulations is one of the most vital things to remember to do.
When you record calls with your consumers, you’re holding your company accountable for acquiring prior express consent. This puts you in a position of power if you are questioned at any point, as you’ll have a historic record to present.
Attribute equips companies to track leads that have provided consent to being contacted in line with TCPA compliance.
For companies that operate in the marketing industry, legally operating is crucial, meaning that all calls to cell phones must be recorded.
Consumers can report unsolicited calls from your company at any time if they believe that you’re breaching the laws set out by the federal communications commission.
Calls are recorded for consumer protection. If you can show evidence that you’re carrying out telemarketing calls in a legal manner, your marketing company won’t be penalized.
By keeping a record of all interactions, you have a comprehensive analysis to refer to the case of an incident.
Message frequency to certain phone numbers also has a significant impact, especially if conducted without written permission and especially if the phone number is on the do not call list.
Under TCPA compliance regulations, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has outlined some metrics which can be deemed invasive:
- Too many calls or texts in a short period;
- Low average duration of calls;
- Low call completion rates;
- High volume of complaints;
- Sequential dialing patterns during voicemail;
- Common Caller ID Name (CNAM) values across different voice service providers.
As important as it is to document which actions lead to violations, it would also be prudent to ensure your copy of the National Do Not Call Registry is up-to-date (a monthly check is recommended) and disseminate your own internal registry. Aim to follow the stipulations of these registries for a minimum of 5 years, after which you can review and possibly renew the lead.
Contacting your customer on their cell phone is permitted under the TCPA if you already have an established business relationship with them. TCPA prohibits sending marketing messages, especially when opt-out is selected.
2. Training and Strategy Are Paramount
Compliance concerns have only been exacerbated by the increase of SMS text
messages and SMS marketing. And while they’re highly effective communication tools, they are becoming a burden to businesses, as texting is subject to
the same stringent laws as telemarketing.
Begin by safeguarding your most valuable asset, your employees, with a TCPA compliance policy. Maintain up-to-date marketing and sales staff, train them on new regulations, and provide detailed and comprehensive policies.
Understanding the best practices in regulatory compliance is only half the battle. Some examples of TCPA violations:
- Calls made before 8 AM or after 9 PM;
- Calls made to phone numbers listed on the Do Not Call Registry;
- Calls made to parties who choose to opt-out of communications by any other means, such as unsubscribing to a newsletter.
- Calls made on behalf of persons or organizations the caller refuses to name, identify or provide contact information about them.
Keep in mind that these rules apply to telemarketing calls. SMS marketing may be subject to different ones.
TCPA compliance can help you and your team avoid the pitfalls many businesses encounter. In fact, some businesses have attempted to circumvent restriction laws by covering telemarketing and telesales with political or charitable messaging. Nevertheless, this still falls under the TCPA regulations.
What’s more, you should regularly review any prerecorded scripts and, where necessary, make changes to your calls-to-action, terms and conditions, and opt-in and opt-out policies.
The TCPA may not require this, but it certainly sets the standard for telemarketing that meets a higher standard. Additionally, after successive backlash from consumers who feel their communications are unclear, it’s more crucial than ever to be diligent, direct, and transparent. Updating your scripts to align more closely with TCPA language is highly beneficial, too.
Ensure your team knows the legal obligations from the beginning (such as in their induction training) and throughout their tenure. During their training sessions, these training participants should be aware of the prohibitions against unfair and abusive practices and their responsibilities under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
Furthermore, a mandatory disclosure clause can also be added to your company call center policy, stating that the caller must disclose their name, the company where they work, and the contact information the called party can use to contact them.
An attribution software company like Attribute gives you 360-degree visibility over your team and allows you to integrate plug-and-play marketplaces. View under-performers and high earners, analyze cell phone usage, and remember that usually, the latter are better versed in TCPA compliance.
First of all, it’s extremely important to understand what express written consent means in TCPA and marketing.
Two major components are involved:
- Disclose the following when asking your customers to participate in text message marketing (either through a web form, point of sale, mobile opt-in, or traditional pen and paper): By participating, you consent to receive text messages sent by an automatic telephone dialing system.
But, how exactly do automatic telephone dialing systems work? Simply put, they operate with robot-callers. Specifically, telephone dialing systems use software and relevant equipment that facilitates automated texting.
- The automated telephone dialing system disclosure must be clear and conspicuous to customers before they opt in to your SMS marketing campaign. Leaving legal language aside, this is the simplest requirement. Just display the automated telephone dialing system disclosure where you ask for your customers’ mobile phone numbers.
By completely understanding and adhering to the above, there’ll be fewer or no complaints about customers not reading the disclosure to opt into text message marketing.
On that note, it’d also be useful to know the two different types of consent: Express written consent and prior express consent.
TCPA Express Content can be defined as an agreement, written or oral, indicating that a person wishes to be called at a particular number. However, the TCPA doesn’t specifically define prior express consent in the statute.
Suppose a consumer knowingly provides their phone number to a company without conditions in the normal course of business. In that case, express consent can be implied so long as the calls are closely related to the purpose for which it was originally given.
According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), prior express written consent is a written agreement between the caller and the call receiver that authorizes the caller to deliver telemarketing messages by automated telephone dialing or artificial prerecorded voice.
In addition to the phone number, this type of consent must also include the receiver’s signature on paper or a button press confirming the agreement. Callers should also indicate that consent isn’t a requirement for sale.
An individual’s consent is associated with his or her phone number, not just their name. TCPA violations may occur if a phone number is reassigned from one person to another, in which case any consent previously acquired for that number will be invalid.
Any company that makes a significant number of marketing calls will need a strategy for handling reassigned numbers and their risks.
Prior Written Consent Is a Legal Requirement
The term prior express written consent refers to an agreement, in writing, with the person’s signature that authorizes the seller to deliver advertisements or telemarketing messages using an automatic telephone dialing system or by prerecorded voice. It also refers to the telephone number to which such advertisements or telemarketing messages are authorized to be delivered.
As per the law, the written agreement shall include a clear and conspicuous disclosure informing the person signing that:
- By executing the agreement, such person authorizes the seller to deliver or cause to be delivered to the signatory telemarketing calls using an automatic telephone dialing system or an artificial or prerecorded voice;
- The person isn’t required to sign the agreement (directly or indirectly) or agree to enter into it as a condition of purchasing any property, goods, or services.
For non-telemarketing automated calls and texts, such as delivery confirmations, the FCC has granted an important exemption from the express consent requirement:
In the absence of any instructions to the contrary, people who knowingly release their phone numbers are in effect giving their permission to be called at the number they have provided.
Non-marketing messages are exempt from this rule. If consent is obtained, it shouldn’t be subject to conditions. Further, the message’s purpose must be closely related to the reason for which the number was given in the first place.
Keep track of consumers who consent to receive communications and the type of communications they consent to. Before initiating communications, establish procedures for consulting the record.
Ensure that your record containing details of those who have expressed prior written consent is accessible to all employees, too.
As previously mentioned, training your staff on the best procedures for checking records to avoid any phone calls being made to people who haven’t given consent to your marketing company is of pivotal importance.
As well as keeping up-to-date records, it’s imperative to offer existing contacts a clear opt-out option they can access at any point.
Up-to-date records need to account for all types of telemarketing communication to cell phones, including manual calls, text messaging, automated voice messages, promotional texts, and auto-dialed calls.
For prerecorded messages, many marketing companies believe that different rules apply. That is not the case, however, as TCPA litigation is still completely applicable.
The DNC regulations include an exception for calls to current customers or those who have recently requested information from a business. Suppose a company has an established business relationship (EBR) with an individual listed on the National DNC Registry, and that individual has not said he or she does not wish to receive outbound telephone calls. In that case, the company may call the consumer.
A business relationship is established when the consumer has:
- Entered into a transaction with the seller within the previous 18 months;
- Inquired about the seller’s goods and/or services within the previous three months.
That said, there are state-specific variations concerning their EBR exceptions. Although many states follow federal laws, some have enacted EBR regulations that are more restrictive than government regulations.
EBR rules differ between states and the federal government in two ways:
- Some states have implemented an EBR exception that extends for a shorter period than the 18 months allowed by the federal rule (generally 12 months);
- Others have implemented EBR definitions that don’t permit communication based solely on consumer inquiries.
At Attribution, we bridge the sales and marketing gap. Whether lead attribution through AI distribution or targeted sales representatives, we offer an end-to-end tracking and compliance solution that avoids litigation in the federal courts.
With our extensive TCPA compliance knowledge, we help companies and individuals remain compliant with the law and maximize lucrative opportunities
Our comprehensive oversight of an array of automated, streamlined, and flexible platforms offers a broad yet detailed overview of your operations. Additionally, it enables the fine-tuning of Return on Ad Spend (ROAS).
The user-friendly interface identifies and replicates the success of top performers in real-time, with the figures presenting how your team works.
Maintain TCPA compliance during telemarketing calls while avoiding downtime caused by excessive churn, which, in return, is caused by faulty leads. In essence, with Attribution AI you get the real thing.
Additionally, we offer a plug-and-play marketplace within your chosen sector to keep you up-to-date with industry regulations and marketing tools. Using our platform, you can consolidate all your data into one place, eliminate human error, and track customer contacts from beginning to end without relying on automated dialing.
A Final Thing to Remember
The purpose of these laws isn’t to stifle innovation but to protect consumer data from unsolicited communications while at the same time strengthening the relationship between you and the company. To do so, telemarketers should ensure that all calls are ethical, clear, and transparent and only call those who have opted in.
Getting express written consent is the safest way to ensure regulatory compliance for opt-in texts, promotional texts, and telemarketing calls.
TCPA compliance can be challenging. Hence, this preliminarily helpful how-to guide is in no way comprehensive. Look at our TCPA compliance checklist of the dos and don’ts for more information and consult an attorney before drafting an internal policy.
In fact, working closely with an attorney can bring about a greater peace of mind for yourself as a business owner and safeguard your employees in their workplace.
To sum it up, TCPA compliance should be at the top of your priorities. And despite being daunting every TCPA regulation in mind, doing so has many benefits: From greater customer loyalty to avoiding penalties given for TCPA violation. Consequently, maintain the above advice and keep our checklist handy for the ultimate protection against unwanted TCPA regulation breaches.
Want to learn more about how to keep your company compliant?
Click here to read about the 4 ways you and your business can ensure TCPA compliance
Click below to download our free TCPA Compliance Checklist
Looking for a solution to ensure your business stays complaint? look no further.
Between Attributes DNC sync with all systems (CRM, dialer) and its ability to screen duplicates, invalid leads, and errors – compliance will never be an issue again