Definitions Under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)
If you are in sales, marketing, or a telemarketer by trade it is important to understand the rules found within the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) in order to avoid accidentally violating them. TCPA Violations can lead to fines or even losing the ability to telemarket.
Here is what you need to know:
The regulations consider a telemarketing call to be one made by advertisers to offer or sell products or services. If you are simply providing information it is not telemarketing. For example, an airline telling you a flight has been delayed is not considered telemarketing.
An Autodialer is a Machine or Software That Helps You Make Calls
When you have to pick up the phone and personally dial every call, it can take a lot of time and slow you down. Minutes are wasted dialing, waiting for someone to answer, and getting busy signals. An autodialer can automatically call people for you and give them a recorded message or connect you once they have answered. While this is a more efficient calling method it is also more highly regulated. If your autodialer delivers a pre-recorded message it is considered a robocall, the most highly regulated form of telemarketing. Previously, if a consumer had an existing business relationship with you a robocall would be acceptable. Now, there must be prior written consent in order to avoid a violation.
Text Messages Are Regulated by the TCPA
Recent regulation has made it more difficult for telemarketers to contact people on their cell phone. Now, if you want to send a text message you need to have prior written consent from the consumer to do so. This cannot be considered implied consent but must be clearly spelled out in writing. You can have consumers sign their consent on a traditional piece of paper or electronically give their consent. This is a big change because in the past an existing business relationship fulfilled this requirement. The only exception is text messages for the purpose of informing someone, rather than selling them something.
Do Not Call Registry
It is important to always scrub your call list against the national Do Not Call Registry. Remove anyone that is on the registry from your list. If you contact someone that was not registered, but wants to be removed from your list, you must do so immediately. It is wise to have a written policy in place for how you remove people once a request has been made.
Violating TCPA Regulations
If you violate the TCPA guidelines you could be fined anywhere from $500 to $1,500 per call, message, or text. This is not per day but per call. If you make 100 calls that violate these regulations that could be a $150,000 fine. Many companies have gone out of business due to these penalties.
Stay up to date on regulation and create policies and procedures to protect yourself and your company. Taking the time to ensure that you are in compliance could save you money and headaches down the road.