After October 16th, 2013, companies making business-to-business calls cannot dial cell phones using any kind of auto-assisted equipment without written permission – which covers virtually 100% of B2B calls. Getting your calling lists from sources that include social media outlets like Linked-In, Twitter and Facebook puts you at risk. Your first line of defense against call prohibitions is to identify or “scrub” cell phone numbers. See: B2B Marketers Must Scrub Cells Now.
Yes. These are the folks that have sued callers at least once. And you’ll want to stay away from them. Although it’s a small group, less than 70,000 consumers, they know what they’re doing. They have their own websites, training and legal specialty help. And 40% of them have sued more than once. See: Known TCPA/FDCPA Plaintiffs & Litigants Scrub.
“Compliance” simply means doing everything possible to be in conformance with existing Federal call prohibitions which is difficult due to the National Do Not Call Registry, in-house call plus applicable individual State lists. Do Not Call Compliance is pretty straightforward in areas – like identifying and archiving numbers on the National, State, wireless block, wireless portability and in-house list. This is to be done regularly (every month for regular phone lines and twice a month for mobile numbers). And part of business compliance procedures, you’ll need to register with the National Do Not Call list and appropriate State lists. Today, DNC Compliance procedures include things like making sure your individual written permissions to call are properly stored and available when needed. It’s possible to get written permissions verbally, but they must be carefully scripted, recorded, and approved by General Council. “Existing Business Relationship”, EBR’s are no longer valid after the Telephone Consumer Protection Act Update of October 16th 2014 – so you need express written permissions at every sale, which don’t expire after 18 months like existing business relationships did and are valid until the cell number owner changes, or the consumer requests not to be called anymore. A true compliance calling program for the Do Not Call Laws will contain day to day procedures and policies to be adhered to. To consider your Company "Do Not Call Compliant" you must checking calling procedures against the latest Federal and State call prohibition rules and algorithms every 6 months or so.
Do Not Call List Scrubbing is one of the most important services to perform before calling consumers and businesses to ensure compliance with the various call prohibitions. “Scrubbing” means to identify and archive those numbers that are on these Do Not Call Lists, including the National Do Not Call Registry, various State Registries, the DMA wireless block, in-house company specific list and wireless portability list to be performed every 30 days for landlines, and every 15 days for wireless cell numbers. Wireless numbers tend to be prosecuted more, carry heavier fines and lawsuits are more prevalent, than with landlines. The 14 States with Do Not Call Lists and “mini TCPA” laws continue to enforce mobile prohibitions, and must be included in all scrubs. 5 States actually don’t allow wireless solicitation at all, even by hand, so these must be included when identifying numbers. And if you are using any kind of automated equipment when calling cells in particular, like auto-dialers, predictive dialers or equipment capable of storing and dialing numbers automatically, you can’t load your scrubbed cell records and dial freely here. DNC List Scrubbing on a bi-monthly (for cells) and monthly (for landlines) basis will always be the basis of a robust call protection program for any company, with records to be available in the timeframe and format that the FTC, FCC, State AG’s and private right of actions demand. “Safe Harbor” means if you have all your compliance policies, procedures and enforcements in place – and you make a mistake – you’re O.K. If the consumer is paying for the call, like on a Voice-Over-IP (VoIP) under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, such calls are a punishable offense for an unsolicited telemarketing call. Identifying, archiving and dating your calling lists - collectively known as “scrubbing” - before picking up the phone, is the single most valuable procedure to perform to ensure against a lawsuit. To assist companies with List Scrubbing, I wrote a definitive 2015 Guide to DNC List Scrubbing.
Do Not Call TCPA Call Center compliancy claims must be validated by being able to monitor calls randomly and checking their daily compliance procedures unannounced. Make sure you know the infrastructure of the outsourced BPO Vendor to see if the dialing equipment and procedures could be construed as an Automatic Telephone Dialing System and if the equipment is certified as “manual” via a top Do Not Call Compliance Service Provider. All DNC compliance call center claims must be in writing as part of a due-diligence process. Calls to cell phones are high on the list right now. Understanding all the types of calls being made, and what type of consent is available. Business to Business call centers are not exempt and following the October 16th 2013 TCPA cell law update, it is clear that socially sourced brokered Linked-in and Twitter cell phones lists are a problem having previously been private data and calling these cells using any kind of auto-assisted dialing equipment is now illegal. Your company is always responsible for compliance no matter what kind of fulfillment house or third party vendor is making calls on your behalf. Using a Certified Do Not Call Law Compliance Service Provider, ensures your data passes through a compliance repository list before each call, is dated and archived by third party experts, ready in the timeframe and format required by the FCC, FTC, State AG’s or consumer litigator in case of any problem.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFBC) most frequently audits outbound calling initiatives of debt collection, financial services or related industries and will ask for cell phone records wanting to know if the automatic telephone dialing system has been “certified” by a third party DNC Compliance Expert, while accurate cell records are not easy to come by as there is no centralized list like on the Do Not Call Registry. Companies doing in-house Cell Phone Scrubbing take a serious risk of “you against them” since compliance is a legal and not a data problem and in any court action an expert “compliance” company that has done the scrubbing and archiving cells will result in a strong legal position. Most IT experts can handle the technical aspects of scrubbing cell data, but the data accuracy and currency depends on the data sources and most companies have no understanding and documentation of the procedures and data archiving processes. Individual states are getting in on the action and some have passed smaller versions of the TCPA which supercedes federal law in the DNC arena. Cell phones on DNC lists are particularly problematic for Business-to-Business callers who traditionally haven’t registered for the Do-Not-Call List, haven’t followed any scrubbing procedures, haven’t been prosecuted for years by government and private entities are becoming a problem since the October 2013 TCPA cell update requires express written consent when using any kind of auto-assisted dialing. When it comes to scrubbing and archiving cell phone records, a call center’s word will always be questioned by government entities like the CFPB, FTC, FCC and private plaintiffs. Laws are changing, and scrubbing procedures are regularly being upgraded to include the latest Federal, State and company specific cell compliance procedures.
Whether you opt for premise based calling technology, still used by the majority of calling operations, new cloud based call technology, or a “hybrid” of both, compliance with the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) and TCPA is the number one concern today in risking fines related to Using Do Not Call Dialers. A common misconception today is that business-to-business calls are NOT subject to the TCPA, while auto-assisted cell calls actually do apply to B2B calling. About 20% of cell phone numbers change in highly populated areas in any given year. Courts determined the caller is responsible for these “reassigned numbers” and must have them right party verified. States have become more active in creating and acting on consumer phone legislations recently, especially concerning cell phones. State “mini TCPA” rules generally trump Federal DNC restrictions, and have been aggressively prosecuted. Calling recordings should be kept for long periods as those records are your defense against frivolous suits and consumer litigants, your defense being only as good as your data in the Do Not Call arena. Compliance companies advise on the registrations you’ll need and as changes come about, like the new mobile wireless restrictions of 2013 - or state established “mini TCPA” laws and prosecutions, they’ll also incorporate these algorithms into the scrubbing procedures.