Do Not Call List Scrubbing is one of the most important services you can perform before calling consumers and other businesses to ensure your company is in compliance with the various call prohibitions. The term “scrub” means to identify and archive those numbers that are on these Do Not Call Lists. This includes the National Do Not Call Registry, various State Registries, the DMA wireless block, in-house company specific list and wireless portability list. These scrubbing tasks on required lists need to be performed every 30 days for landlines, and every 15 days for wireless cell numbers.
As you scrub these calling lists, it’s important to pay particular attention to cell phones. Wireless numbers tend to be prosecuted more, and carry heavier fines and lawsuits are more prevalent, than with landlines. In fact, the “holy grail” of the Do Not Call (or Telephone Sales Rule) and Telephone Consumer Protection Act are in fact class action consumer lawsuits totaling millions of dollars over cell phone calls. Cell phone identification and archiving is the first thing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will look for during an audit, as they continue to re-interpret the TCPA as they like!
The 14 States with Do Not Call Lists and “mini TCPA” laws continue to vigorously 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.
Do Not Call 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 your company. And making sure these records are available in the timeframe and format that the FTC, FCC, State AG’s and private right of actions want them should a problem occur is critical. If you can’t find the stored records when you need them, you’re guilty until proven innocent! And should you make a mistake, and actually call one of these numbers, your “safe harbor” protections depend on accurate retrieval of the various dated scrubbed lists.
“Safe Harbor” of course is the end game of all protections. It simply means if you have all your compliance policies, procedures and enforcements in place – and you make a mistake – you’re O.K. Now this doesn’t mean you can be sloppy. And it’s not easy to do. AT&T couldn’t do it. American Express couldn’t do it. That’s why we have third party Do Not Call Law Compliance service providers to assist in the scrubbing and archiving procedures. As these Federal and State laws and algorithms change, along with the degrees of punishment, prudent business decisions in this area need to be constantly re-evaluated. What “slipped by” a couple of years ago might be a hot button today!
Even lists that are not strictly on the Telephone Sales Rule scrubbing procedures are worth considering. Like Voice Over IP Calls to consumer lines. If the consumer is paying for the call, under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, that is a punishable offense for an unsolicited telemarketing call. We’ve actually had our first successful case in this area! Or now, businesses calling other businesses need to be aware of small to medium sized companies that have signed up for the National Do Not Call Registry and scrub those numbers accordingly. Most B2B calls use some sort of automatic telephone dialing equipment, so they’ll need to additionally scrub cells here too.
In summary: identifying, archiving and dating your calling lists - collectively known as “scrubbing” - before picking up the phone, is the single most valuable procedure you can perform to ensure the safety and profitability of your outgoing communication initiatives.