Warning: Do Not Call a Cell Phone Without Reading These New Laws
The FCC has set new rules for telemarketers calling cell phones. They are laid out in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Telemarketers need to pay attention because these recent rulings are stricter than their older cousins and violations can cost $16,000 per call. The new rules are set to go into effect on October 16, 2013.
Here is what you need to know about the cell phone portion of the TCPA:
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act defines “opt-in” in a much stricter, more precise way. Previously you could get a list of consumers that have opted in by clicking a link, replying to an email, or signing a paragraph within a document – now the only opt-in the TCPA will accept for cell phones is a signed consent. Consumers, and businesses, have to sign a piece of paper giving authorization for a telemarketer to call their cell phone. The language in the document must also state that “providing consent may not be a condition of any purchase”. This will make most current opt-in tactics for cell phones obsolete. Obtaining this level of consent will be difficult, if not impossible.
Business Cell Phones Are Included
The TCPA rules do not distinguish between a consumer and business cell phone. B2B telemarketers will need to change their tactics as well. As of October 16th, 2013 you can be fined for calling a business cell phone.
Scrub Your Leads
Since the opt-in guidelines are so strict the best option is to simply scrub your leads and remove all cell phone numbers. Scrub your leads against wireless block files (cell phone prefixes) and a list of landlines that were ported to cell phones. Locate a lead list agency to do this for you now so that you don’t get caught up in a last minute frenzy to stay in compliance.
There is a safe harbor provision that says if you accidentally make a violation but have scrubbed your leads within the previous fifteen days you can avoid being fined. The smartest thing for a business to do is to get on a regular schedule of having their leads scrubbed. This way you can always stay within the safe harbor provisions.
Take action now by locating a firm to scrub your leads for you. Not complying with the TCPA laws could be very expensive. Each violation, as in each call, can result in a $16,000 fine. Additionally consumers can bring a civil case against you for $500 per call up to three times that amount if it is proven to be willful.