You may have read about the recent Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling highlighting that calls made to a residential line using an autodialer can violate the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) if the residential line service charges for incoming calls. The calls to that number were made using an automated telephone dialing system (ATDS), a violation of the FCC's TCPA Compliance Laws. As you know, the statute prohibits “Making any call….using any ATDS or artificial or prerecorded voice… to any service for which the called party is charged for the call.”
Because the VoIP service charged for the calls, the TCPA definition was met, and a violations penalty of the act was triggered. Up to this point, statute violations have only been set off by cell phone calling procedures. What to do? -
Watch: Do I need to Scrub VoIP to be Compliant
This video is for informational purposes. Be sure to consult your own attorney for questions specific to your business.
The line in question was a consumer VoIP Verizon line that charged a fifth of a penny for incoming calls...
A small percentage of consumers plug a dongle into their computer, are assigned a 10 digit phone number, and use it to make and receive calls. An even smaller percentage of those are charged "per minute" inbound and outbound use. These are the folks you need to be concerned with as a professional marketer. How to identify these potential troublemakers and scrub them from your calling lists can be a challenge.
Will scrubbing for VoIP remove alot of callable numbers from my lists?
No. John Ruby, CEO of GCom, and President of the NY Chapter of the Professional Association of Consumer Engagement says: "Consumer calls over the internet are increasing, but still a small percentage of the total. Like a Vonage phone and hook up to the internet. They give you an IP address, and you're off. So if you're calling consumers, and you scrub against computer based voip lines, it'll be a small number of your calls. You're still not going to know how many of those consumers are paying per call (the ones that might sue you) - but you will be in compliance with the TCPA wording "or any party parying for the call" scenario. So overall you're not losing many consumers to call, and you should be in compliance. This of course is unlike the cell market, where everyone pays for the incoming calls, and all are generally subject to the TCPA."
"On the business side, 9 out of 10 phone systems we install today for are "Hosted" or VoIP based system. A business Hosted VoIP system will not be paying for inbound calls. and call centers soliciting consumers won't be calling those numbers anyway."
How can I identify VoIP lines before calling?
Much like we scrub against the DMA wireless block for cells via the three digit number prefixes identifying them, so too can we scrub against VoIP records using the prefixes that identify VoIP.
So in the phone number 561-XXX-1234 – the three digit XXX prefix would identify the number as VoIP - or not. As far as we know, the actual complete VoIP number identifier, i.e., the whole number, is not available. So it looks like the prefix identifier is as good as it gets right now for VoIP. Fortunately, that should be good enough to help avoid situations like calling a VoIP line that fits the dreaded TCPA definition, “…or any service for which the called party is charged for the call”! (See our page: "B2C Marketers need to Identify and Scrub VoIP now.")
How do I include VoIP Scrubbing in my Call Compliance Efforts?
You'll need to have an account with a top Do-Not-Call Law Compliance Service Provider that includes VoIP scrubbing as an option. It's best to do this as part of your overall compliance efforts under a single provider, so if you have an issue, all records are properly identified and archived in one place, ready to be called up in the proper timeframe and format should they be needed. And much like cells, VoIP identifiers are not all that readily available. Many of the carriers keep VoIP information to themselves.
Update 10-20-2015: Several of our readers have pointed out that many compliance service providers don't offer VoIP Scrubbing. If you're having a problem locating a certified Do Not Call Law VoIP Scrub, call me. We have a discounted arrangement with a top compiler - and include our VoIP Scrub under a single compliance umbrella.
For more information on VoIP filters for your Do-Not-Call and TCPA Compliance initiatives, call me at 561-317-3001 or email here.
Thanks to John Ruby for his help here. John is one of our Long Distance Gurus and can save you alot of money there. Give him a call on his cell at (973) 945-6094 or see our page: "How to get Ultra-Low Long Distance Corporate Rates."