Telemarketing Laws

State Telemarketing Laws

If you are a telemarketer or making sales calls, it is important to follow both federal and state telemarketing laws.

Many companies make the mistake of assuming that they only need to follow the federal laws and avoid violating the Do Not Call Registry.  The reality is that each state has the ability to make their own laws and to enforce them.  If you are calling in your home state, you can easily place a call to your local Attorney General to identify any specific laws that you need to be following.  If you are calling nationwide it becomes more complicated, and you need to make sure that your policies and procedures are established to avoid any violations.

Here are some state telemarketing laws that you need to know about:

  • Missouri – The state of Missouri has a No Call Law.  This law prohibits telemarketers from contacting any residential numbers that are on the states no call registry.  Even if the individual has not listed their phone number on the federal registry, they could be listed on the statewide one.  Missouri defines a telemarketer as anyone who is connected to a company that does telemarketing through incoming or outgoing phone calls. This includes automatic calls made from a computer, owners, operators, directors, and managers of said companies. In order to get a copy of the registry businesses have to apply for it and pay a $50 fee.  The registry is updated every quarter and both in state and out of state companies must comply with the telemarketing laws.
  • New York – New York has passed several state wide telemarketing laws that make it more difficult for companies making sales calls.  They require that any telemarketing company using pre-recorded messages must have prior written consent before reaching New Yorkers at home.  They also have a law requiring telemarketers raising money for charity to disclose how much of the money goes to the charity itself.  Both in state and out of state companies must comply with their telemarketing laws and keep records of all activities for two years.
  • Arizona – Telemarketing companies making sales calls in Arizona must first register with their Secretary of State.  If any company has a change in their filing, it must be reported within ten days of the change.  This applies to all companies making telemarketing calls in Arizona.  The state does not allow telemarketing companies to block their Caller ID or use prerecorded messages on mobile devices.

These are only some of the states with specific telemarketing laws on the books.  It is important to check the state laws prior to making calls in order to avoid any potential violations.  You should also create a policies and procedures manual that includes how to follow both federal and state laws.  This will be a good reference guide and show authorities that you are trying to comply if a mistake is accidentally made.

You can also purchase a specific call list from www.SalesLeads.tv to ensure that your calling efforts are reaching the right people and as effective as possible.

New Telemarketing Rules for 2013

If you are a telemarketer, outbound sales person, or business owner there are new telemarketing rules for 2013 that may impact your business.

Understanding the regulation changes is essential to ensuring that you are in compliance and prepared to keep your business successful and profitable.

The first deadline has already passed, so if you haven’t changed your business practices do so immediately. 

As of January 14th, 2013 the FCC implemented a ruling that requires automated, interactive opt-out options for messages that are delivered along with prerecorded calls.  They need to comply with their abandonment provisions.  These rules first started taking effect in November of 2012 so most companies have gradually been implementing these changes.

If your business was using prerecorded calls to reach out to customers this change means that prior to delivering your message the consumers has to have the option to select not to receive any further calls from your company.  The customer has to be told they have the option not to get any more calls and given clear instructions on how to opt-out.  They also have to be provided with this option immediately after the caller stating their identity.  The automated messages need to be crafted carefully in order to comply.

This presents an opportunity for experienced telemarketers making cold calls.  Businesses will have to decide which is more important, staying with prerecorded calls and risking being told not to call or paying more money for experienced reps to call on sales leads.  If a consumer elects to not receive any further calls the company must immediately put them on a do not call list and cease all contact.  Sales leads are valuable and there is a limited number of people that fit most companies “customer” profile.  Continuing with automated calls is a clear risk to a company’s continued ability to solicit.

On October 16th, 2013 the FCC will implement additional restrictions on telemarketers.

If your company wants to use prerecorded messages or an auto dialer to call people’s cell phones, life is going to get a lot harder.  After October 16th a company needs written, prior approval, to place these types of calls to a cell phone.  Unless you are a bank signing people up for account alerts, a doctor, or a charity – getting these written approvals will prove to be very difficult.  This will effectively eliminate prerecorded marketing calls to cell phones.

If you are a seasoned telemarketer, working sales leads, these changes should be excellent for your business.  Companies will have an increased need for experienced callers as sending prerecorded messages has become increasingly difficult with a lower likelihood of success.  Companies that have been using these methods should evaluate the desired outcome from sales campaigns and invest in quality sales leads and experienced reps to ensure that while less calls may be made, they are more effective at gaining new clients.

 

 

 

 

National Do Not Call Registry

The National Do Not Call Registry (NDNCR) has undoubtedly been popular since its inception in 2003, but in the process, it has hampered telemarketers. The registry requires that lead lists be purged of names that are on the NDNCR; SalesLeads.TV maintains full compliance with these rules. But did you know that there are a number of exceptions to the NDNCR rules?

Here is a brief list of granted exceptions to the Do Not Call Rules:

  • The registry applies only to residences, not businesses
  • Political organizations
  • Not-for-profit organizations
  • Surveys
  • Companies that have an existing relationship with a person on the registry for up to 18 months following the last business transaction.
  • There is a 31-day waiting period in which a person on the registry can still receive phone calls
  • Bill collectors

For everyone else, it is imperative you use lead lists that are in full compliance with NDNCR. I strongly recommend that you do not try to circumvent the rules. As a cautionary tale, consider the case of Missouri vs Dove Foundation. The foundation, a non-profit opinion-polling organization, was accused and of violating Missouri’s Do Not Call Implementation Act in 2006 for allowing its client, Feature Films for Families, to market its products to households who had registered. The organization reached a settlement for $70,000 after over 300 complaints were received by the Missouri Attorney General.

People can complain to the Federal Communications Commission and to the Federal Trade Commission if they feel they are being abused. Complainers must provide specifics, such as the time of the phone call, the phone number called, the identity of the caller, the purpose of the call, and whether the call was exempt for any reason. The FTC has been criticized for not pursuing NDNRC claims.

For a company to receive the NDNRC list, it must first obtain a Subscription Account Number (SAN) for one or more area codes. A fee is charged unless the organization is exempt. The company then downloads the registered phone numbers. SalesLeads.TV purges its lists of any phone numbers downloaded in this way, unless the lead purchaser is exempt from the NDNRC. The FCC fine for illegal calls is $16,000 per call, so obviously it makes no sense to ignore this law. Recently, the FTC has issued Do Not Track guidelines to protect consumers from unauthorized use of their online data, an issue we will examine in a future blog.

Eric Bank