“Do Not Call Compliance” is a term telemarketers may not have been very familiar with as few as 10 years ago, and all that has changed. “Compliance” with the Do Not Call and related Telephone Sales Rule and Telephone Consumer Protection Act are front and center with virtually every company reaching out to consumers and other businesses via the phone.
“Compliance” simply means you are doing everything you can (or everything you know how to do) to be in alignment with the various call prohibitions. Not so easy to do – as you’ve got the National Do Not Call Registry, plus in-house lists, and those pesky individual State lists keep passing new compliance call restrictions and making sure they get their fines worth. (Yes – it’s still all about the money. That hasn’t changed!)
And compliance is not like a pregnancy. There are degrees of compliance. You may have an area of outreach phone initiatives that are technically out of compliance – like exact caller ID identification for example – but we generally don’t see prosecutions in that area. Whereas robo-calling – and adding inappropriate caller identification – yes that’s definitely high risk with the TCPA, CFPB, and Do Not Call Laws!
Sometimes it’s very difficult to determine if your company is in Compliance with the Do Not Call and related Telephone Consumer Protection Act Laws. Like if you are using an automated telephone dialing system vs manual dialing system when contacting consumer owing you money. You’re not supposed so call cells using that ATDS – but if you pause the equipment when calling that wireless number in what’s called “click to call” mode, does that satisfy the Telephone Sales Rule and TCPA compliance requirements?
Do Not Call Compliance is more straightforward in other areas – like identifying and archiving numbers on the National, State, wireless block, wireless portability and your in-house list. This needs to be done regularly (every month for regular phone lines and twice a month for mobile numbers). And as part of your business compliance procedures, you’ll need to register with the National Do Not Call list and appropriate State lists. If a vendor tells you these registrations are not necessary, or they’ve never had a compliance problem without registering, consider a different call center or fulfillment house!
Today, Do Not Call Compliance includes 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 of course approved by your General Council. And the best time to get permissions? – At the time of the sale of course! (By the way, you may have heard of the term “Existing Business Relationship”. Unfortunately, EBR’s as they are known, are no longer valid after the Telephone Consumer Protection Act Update of October 16th 2014 – so make sure you get those express written permissions at every sale. The cool thing: written permissions don’t expire after 18 months like existing business relationships did! They’re 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 that must be adhered to. Often it makes sense to bring in a third party compliance company to handle this heavy lifting. If done right, compliance should be handled in the background so as not to interrupt the current calling procedures everyone is used to. Whether you are an individual agent, call center, remote agent or run a “virtual” call center with folks working from different locations.
Don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re Do Not Call Compliant if you’re not checking calling procedures against the latest Federal and State call prohibition rules and algorithms every 6 months or so. The days of a "slap on the wrist" are over with fines and penalties in place. Between the Federal Trade Commission, Federal Communications Commission, States Attorney’s General and individual "private right of action" suits in the millions of dollars – you better pay attention and keep up with this stuff – before some smart consumer litigant does it for you!