As a business owner, it’s your job to make sure your independent agents have as much freedom as possible to use the phone, reaching out to new and existing clients – but without endangering your company against the Do Not Call Laws.
Supervising these offsite workers can be a challenge. Are they following proper DNC number checking procedures before calling? Does my company have liability exposure here?
Keys to protecting your Remote Agents - Click Video
This video is for informational purposes. Be sure to consult your own attorney for questions specific to your business.
Here are 6 tips to help protect your remote Agents against DNC TCPA Law Violations
1. Give agents access to a number checking system.
A system that’s easy to use, or they won’t use it! Look for an internet-based DNC number checking tool that can be quickly accessed on the road, from home, or remote office. Agents should be able to enter phone numbers one at a time, or drag n drop groups of numbers before calling - then simply press return, and callable or un-callable numbers appear. You’ll want each lookup archived for your companies safe harbor protection. And they should be available in the format and timeframe the FTC, FCC, State AG’s or private right of action plaintiffs may want them. See our page: "DNC Quick Check for Offices & Remote Agents."
2. Have an Administrator Dashboard, so you can easily keep track of who’s checking numbers…
And who is not! If you have a top salesperson that hasn’t entered any numbers – you may have a potential DNC violation there. The best DNC number checking tool on the planet may not be able to help you stay compliant if it’s never used!
3. If you’re doing DNC in-house, make sure the system will survive legal scrutiny.
Have proper Federal and State registrations in place, and renewed at the proper times. (Expired registrations tend to happen more than you might think). Make sure National and State lists are updated when they come out. Your policies, procedures and enforcements should include: Company specific in-house list, Do-Not-Call policy, and agent training. If you’re relying on your vendors, list providers, or fulfillment houses to handle independent agent DNC – ask how they plan to field a civil investigative demand should a problem occur. And look over your agreement for shared responsibility. Creating a number checking tool for your independent agents is easy, but you find out who your friends are when something goes wrong.
4. Five States don’t allow cell phone calling for marketing purposes at all – even by hand…
So make sure these are included in scrubbing procedures. They are: Arizona, Louisiana, New Jersey, Texas and Wyoming. And the laws vary slightly, so check with your TCPA Attorney on this. But these states are even more restrictive than the new TCPA rules that came out last October on how to obtain the appropriate "express written consent" to be able to call folks on their mobile phones using automated technology. And complete wireless mobile cell lists aren't as readily available as you might think. See our blog: "How to scrub cells in the 5 wireless Do Not Call States."
5. Make sure the system includes the more stringent State Existing Business Relationship exemptions…
If your agent receives an internet inquiry or call in – that’s classified as an existing business relationship. Nationally, you can call back within 90 days for an inquiry and 180 days for a sale. Your number checking tool should give you a heads up if a particular state has a more stringent interpretation overriding these rules. For example, California allows 30 days to call back instead of 90. (Note: If you’re independent agents are using any kind of automated or recorded message equipment to call cells after October 16th , 2013, you’ll want to talk with your competent TCPA Attorney on the type of dialing equipment, ATDS vs manual, types of written consent and/or audio capture consent).
6. Even if agents don’t make many cold calls, it’s still a prudent business decision to register with the National DNC List, and protect yourself with a system in place
Unfortunately, the Do Not Call Laws consider anyone using the phone a telemarketer. So the, “we don’t make many cold calls” excuse won’t do you much good. In fact, it’s worse if you show no attempt to comply at all, or an attempt to get around the laws. National List registration is always the beginning of proper DNC protection, and many consumers have included the cells on that list. The first five area codes are free.
As a business owner, it’s always best to face these DNC and TCPA challenges head on. Many owners shy away thinking, “If I follow these laws I won’t be able to call anybody – or I might even go out of business” - But with the CFPB re-interpreting these laws as they like, and the steady uptick in litigations in this area, it’s a smart decision to pro-actively give your agents access to a robust calling compliance tool for their daily needs. You’ll be glad you did should a Government agency or smart consumer litigant come calling! -
What do you think? Should you just wait until something happens and then plunk the DNC complaint in your lawyers lap? – Let us know in the comments below! -