Now that we've had a Class Action Real Estate Agent Lawsuit issued on June 1’st, 2016 in California, it might be a good time to re-visit the Real Estate Agent’s use of cell phones. Much like B2B companies, Real Estate Agents tend to think they're exempt from all Do-Not-Call and TCPA Laws. I’ve stood in front of ReMax Lawyers representing thousands of Agents – refusing to get even a company Subscription Authorization Number as required by the DNC National Registry. I’ve been at Real Estate Shows where associates swear they never use their phone. Yet they all have one. The fact is, Real Estate Agents are easy compliance targets.
As a Real Estate Agent, you may not want to talk about call compliance because:
You’ve never had a complaint before.
You’re making too much money.
You're not telemarketing.
You're not making outbound calls.
You're not selling anything.
And you have bigger problems – like keeping a good flow of leads, referrals and sales rolling.
And the company you work for either doesn’t seem to care – or has a compliance number checking program that is too slow, too burdensome, and just plain antiquated - so it’s not worth using anyway.
Realtor.org has some outdated call prohibition advice that could cost you:
And it's hard to find accurate guidance. An example from the National Association of Realtors: "You can sign up to access the Federal Trade Commissions Do Not Call Registry and stay in compliance with the law. As of January 1, 2005, telemarketer and sellers (including Realtors) are required to search the registry at least once every 31 days and drop from their call lists the phone numbers of consumer who have registered”.
But aren't cell phones supposed to be scrubbed every 15 days? Isn’t number checking worthless without storing and archiving those records in the time frame and format the FTC, FCC, State AG’s or predatory attorneys might demand them?
You can fight your way through the 27 Do Not Call links on the site.
Everything from State Do-Not-Call Lists to the FCC’s DNC Home Page to other FTC and FCC updates over the years. Link pages like these, though well intentioned, are more confusing than helpful to agents looking for squeaky clean get out of jail Do Not Call and TCPA Compliance Protections for everyday use.
State list checks can be equally confusing.
A Google Search for “Do Not Call Florida Realtors” brings us to Florida Realtors and reveals a reprint of the same outdated national realty rules and links on call prohibitions. Referring again to 2005 rules. And an even more confusing, “Since it takes time for Florida to upload its list into the Federal Registry, real estate licensees should also check Florida’s Do Not Call list.”
But why even have a State list if it’s going to be uploaded to the National? And how does this forward the action for agents looking to comply?
Real Estate Agents feel they are exempt from compliance.
So you can see how Agents don’t bother to scrub numbers and keep call records. Something that would hold up under legal scrutiny, as cell phone laws have become more and more costly to ignore. And today, class action fines can quickly put you out of business.
FSBO’s and expired listings are not exempted from the Federal DNC List.
Frankly, there has been so little action on the lawsuit front for Real Estate Companies that brokers have been lulled into a sense of false security. But that may be about to change, again with our first class action California suit against Century 21.
Of course, the agent wasn’t signed up with the National Registry (State defaults to National in California), didn't check for cell phones, and didn't archive compliance efforts, if any. Why would they? It’s never mentioned in any DNC or TCPA or Express Written Guidance materials on any Real Estate Association sites.
The Funny thing is, it's easy for Real Estate Agents to protect themselves from these laws.
When Agents find out how simple it can be to scrub numbers before calling with a simple checking procedure, they're pleasantly surprised.
Working with a Certified Do Not Call Law Compliance Service Provider makes sense here. If something goes wrong, you're O.K. You have call records available in the timeframe and format required to withstand safe harbor assessments from Federal and State authorities.
Without a certified compliance partner, should a DNC or TCPA suit show up, your company's Real Estate Attorney will make sure someone takes the fall. That will probably include you, your income arrangement, and future dealings with the enterprise.
Do Not Call and TCPA Violation Complaints are up 40% this January over last.
Make sure you do everything you can to avoid these complaints. Take the extra step of scrubbing and archiving numbers before you call.
It's easy to do with proper solutions and guidance, but almost impossible to handle effectively on your own.
Or you can just not bother with it, because, well - you're exempt, right?
For more information on protecting your captive and independent Real Estate Agents from Do Not Call and TCPA Violations, call 561-317-3001 or email me here - Bob