As an individual agent needing to call consumers, whether you’re in real estate, financial services, insurance or other professional endeavor, you'll need to identify or "scrub" numbers on Do Not Call Federal and State lists. You’re not alone in wondering, “How do I protect myself against these call laws easily and safely―and what if a consumer complains? And are there different rules for calling cell phones?”
Protecting Agents from DNC & TCPA Laws - video
This video is for informational purposes. Be sure to consult your own attorney for questions specific to your business.
Sadly, many companies don’t offer Do Not Call protection or guidance in calling procedures for their agents. This potentially puts your financial relationship with your employer at risk―your residual income, your relationships built up over the years. Many companies haven’t even registered with the National Do-Not-Call Registry to obtain a Subscription Authorization Number, which is the beginning of compliance. And somewhere in your employee agreement is a version of, “You’re responsible for the Do-Not-Call Laws.”
If you’ve called your State Attorneys General office seeking the final word on DNC Compliance, you may be frustrated.
How do you decipher information like, “You’re exempt in our State, so don’t worry… but you may have to look into the National Registry.” Excuse me? Or, “You get a ‘first bite of the apple.’ If you apologize immediately for the call and don’t call again, you’re O.K.” Huh? So can I call or not? – (Yes, these are actual responses from State AG office inquires.)
And the truth is: Consumers have been over-educated by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act to expect almost no calls on their cells. Consequently, they have a higher propensity to complain than ever (complaints are up a few hundred percent in the last three years). So even if you’re “right” in calling, without properly and proactively protecting yourself against the Do-Not-Call Laws, including Federal and State registrations, you may be in trouble.
What to look for as a Single Agent in a DNC Compliance tool?
DNC compliance begins with your business registration on the National Registry www.telemarketing.donotcall.gov. Check to see if your company has a SAN (Subscription Authorization Number) already. If not, you can get one yourself for free if you call five area codes or fewer for the year. Then $69 per. For codes over the whole country the cost is $17,000 per year.
- Your solution should be internet based – Available anywhere and anytime.
- It should be cost effective – low monthly price.
- It needs to be easy to use – no clumsy downloading of software.
- Records must be archived and able to survive a Safe Harbor Assessment.
- Make sure it includes the 5 States that have banned even hand-dialed cell calls: AZ, LA, NJ, TX, WY.
“But do I really need to check DNC numbers? I haven’t had any problems in the past.”
The Do-Not-Call is a bit scarier now than it used to be. It’s not just $16,000 per violation anymore. The CFPB is re-interpreting the TCPA rules as they like (a self-funded regulatory body) and individual consumers are not only fighting back in the courts, they’re seeking class action suits in the millions of dollars. Predatory Attorneys are happy to help. So yes, individual professionals calling consumers many times don’t have a true grasp of how far wrong they can go, and how fast. Despite all this, the phone is still the best way to contact consumers and start new relationships, while nurturing your existing ones!
If you have these DNC policies, procedures and enforcement in place and can prove it, the “Safe Harbor” rules in virtually every state allow you to make a possible mistake, either mechanical or technical, and probably still be O.K. (See our page: "Protecting Multiple Agents from the Do Not Call Laws.") And oh yes, if someone says, “I’m not on the Do Not Call List, but don’t call me anymore,” you need to add them to your internal company specific list!
Then if a consumer gives you a hard time about his or her knowledge of the DNC Laws, you simply remind them you take the laws seriously, and you scrub against the DNC before each call. They might want to double check whether their number is still on the DNC list - and you can offer to put them on your company-specific do not call list to make sure they don’t get called again.
Now that’s a solid compliance base – much more effective than, “I thought I got a first byte of the apple for free!”