Has the owner of the cell number you’re about to call changed? As a call center manager of permission-based communications, you can’t be entirely sure! About 25% of cell phone owners located in densely populated areas change their number each year. About a quarter of CFPB debt collector consumer complaints are for “no debt owed,” and most of those seem to be to the wrong party. And the FCC’s Declaratory Ruling of July 10th, 2015 confirmed: If a phone number has been reassigned, companies must stop calling the number after one attempt.
And the courts have indicated that you, as a company initiating calls, are responsible for matching up the number you’re calling to the person that gave permission at the time the call is made. Problem is, for wireless anyway, this information is mostly unavailable. And it’s not all that efficient to hand dial a mobile phone. To ask if it’s O.K. to use auto-assisted dialing next time you call! “Just wanted to make sure it was you!” - is not an efficient identification method.
Making sure you’re calling the right Person
The best we can do with third party data sources is to predict a percentage of probability that a cell is accurate. Here are some tips.
Your Right Party Contact servicer or Compliance Provider will usually give you an actual percentage chance that a number is accurate. With new direct-to-carrier technology, number owner verification can be astonighingly accurate - up to 94%.
Right party quality can be all over the place here, so try to use an expert company in compliance AND data. Providers have their secret sauce of multiple sources here.
Ask if the data is designed to assist with TCPA Do-Not-Call issues, as opposed to a list procurement company just trying to help out. Preferably, your compliance provider will offer right party contact verifications, and can quickly add it to your existing procedures.
Add disconnect/reconnect cell data to your scrub. Have your compliance provider compare that data with your permission to call date. If a number was disconnected or reconnected after your permission date, there’s a good chance it’s a different person.
The older your data, the more you’ll need right party verification. See our page: "Reassigned Numbers need Right Party Verification."
You might also want to scrub your list against the most frequent TCPA private right of action litigant filings.
Called a Litigator Scrub. Although less than 1% of called consumers file actual suits, of those, almost 40% are repeat filers. It’s probably best not to call these folks, as they are just waiting in the wings for you to step up.
These repeaters have their community of websites espousing the virtues of easy money in suing the person that called you. This is a happy group! There’s something deep in the human psyche that gets joy from suing the person they owe money too—and winning! Predatory Attorneys lead many of these sites also. See our page: "Former TCPA Litigant Scrub."
And the CFPB is continually educating consumers on how to file a complaint when a company calls!
If the number you call goes nowhere, there’s always the tried and true skip tracing techniques. You can even have these skipped numbers included in your right party contact scrub for even greater accuracy. Again, it’s all about a percentage of probability here. Be aware skip tracers themselves purport to no implication of TCPA compliance. And of course, your general counsel should make the final decision on these procedures.
Yes the FCC reviewed right party verifications - and confirmed it's your responsibility to make sure you're calling the right person. Fortunately, available information is incredibly accurate. And hiring a third party compliance provider to include this in your compliance procedures goes a long way toward "best efforts" to properly re-identify the folks you're calling. A long way in court. A long way with a judge. And a long way toward keeping you alive and thriving in your communications efforts.
Update March 26, 2016: With TCPA filings up almost 40% this January over last, we've included the video "80% of TCPA Lawsuits include some sort of TCPA component." Customer permission calling is still the best way to go, but can be the most problematic legally - Bob
To learn more about Right Party Verification and Calling the Right Person for permission based communication – Call Bob at 561-317-3001.