Is it a reassigned number issue - or a cell scrub problem - or an express written consent failure? asks the call center manager at a major marketing company. The potential violations are so closely related, who's to say where one ends and the other begins? When problems occur, individual vendors tend to scatter. Vendors specializing in data procurement, call fulfillment, dialer chores - trying to help with compliance, but not specializing in TCPA. In a compliance emergency, defense lawyers are busy tracking down responsible partners for promised call protections, while prosecutors continue to shake the money tree to see what falls out. A single compliance provider of record makes it easier to track down and solve these issues when challenged.
You can thank Senator Clair McCaskill for finally convincing AT&T to launch a service to help block consumer robocalls. The promise was made 3 years ago from a major telecom trade association but never came to fruition. And as you know, unwanted phone solicitations are the number one consumer complaint – and have been for some time.
Newly formed last March, the National Privacy Commission charged with creating stricter rules in data sharing might have a way of tracking down the bad actors in the consumer robocall arena. An area TCPA enforcers continue to be duped. NPC Deputy Commissioner Ivy D. Patdu said the Commission is looking to implement a “do not call” register for direct marketers and the Commission will work together with the telcos. Fines, she added, will be imposed on violators.
Last month, consumer Teofilo Vasco scored a TCPA class action settlement for calls received after filling out a Home Depot improvement form in 2015. He received 21 calls. Teofilo personally received $3,000 in restitution. The Lawyers received 2.5 million - as the Judge “further awards 25 percent of the common fund recovery as attorney fees, and approves the capped administrative costs incurred by the claims administrator and class counsel.” So TCPA prosecutors continue getting rich. Nothing new there - But could the whole thing have been prevented with proper consent language on Home Depot's info form?
Effective May 12, 2017, the FTC will no longer separately classify Avatar calls, sometimes called "soundboard technology calls," from prerecorded robocalls. Avatar calls will need prior written consent required under the Telemarketing Sales Rule, just as robocalls do now. Some Avatar users have been abusive of call prohibitions, causing complaints. Like ringing the phone four times and hanging up to initiate callbacks, or questionable "Police Benevolent Association" solicitations from pushy phantom officers. Apparently the FTC has noticed too.
"It's just the financial institutions and debt collectors that are being fined, right?" Seems a short while ago that was true. HSBC’s $40 million dollar TCPA settlement was the record high. But yesterday, four-year negotiations on the largest Telephone Consumer Protection Act settlement ever - a $76 million dollar fund set up by Caribbean Cruise, Berkley Group and Vacation Ownership - came to fruition. "Answer some political questions and be eligible for a free cruise," is way too close to home for a lot of legitimate company messages. On the heels of the $30 mil Wells Fargo TCPA suit, and the $75 mil Capital One deal – it looks like the days of multimillion-dollar awards have new life - and the days of putting off compliance are over.
I finally realized why the lawyers we turn to for Telephone Consumer Protection Act advice don’t know about third party squeaky clean get-out-of-jail-free TCPA solutions. Because they're not allowed to sell them. They sell advice. And that advice can be tough to implement: like creating a company-specific in-house DNC list that'll hold up under legal scrutiny, or scrubbing against the various State "mini TCPA" laws and Do Not Call Lists, as they're constantly changing. So what are TCPA lawyers good at, and when SHOULD we turn to them.
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.
"You don't want to call people like me - period," says Pro-Consumer TSR Prosecutor Todd Winninger. "I'll send you a demand letter for $500, which you'll ignore, then I'll take you to court for treble damages starting at $3200. Your lawyer will cost four times that, and I'll win. And I'm just a consumer. It's amazing how phone marketers still call when I've filed in almost every court in South Florida. That's insane. To include me on any calling list."
We received a NOTICE OF CLASS ACTION & PROPOSED SETTLEMENT in the mail, with a return address to the AUTO WARRANTY TCPA CLAIMS ADMINISTRATOR. A car warranty company is paying $4.2 million to settle a class because they, “Nonetheless agreed to the settlement to avoid further expense, inconvenience and distraction of burdensome litigation.” [Click Video]