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5 Ways to Avoid a Lawsuit: Latest TCPA Telemarketing Rules

Do you know what type of phone numbers are on your outbound marketing call lists?

If you don’t know the answer to that question, you may be facing hefty fines and lawsuits if the calls you’re making have not had prior written consent from the consumer. Adage.com posted a great article of 5 ways to avoid a lawsuit in 2014 with the new TCPA laws. Here’s a summary of that article:

Chances are your telemarketing calls, prerecorded or live, are being made to consumer phone numbers provided by third-party sources. A study performed last year indicated that fully half of Americans live in a home where only, or mostly, mobile phones are used. As such, most people list their mobile phone as a primary contact, which winds up on your outbound marketing lists.

While marketers have benefited from direct access to potential new customers with mobile-phone numbers, some consumers don’t like it. On Oct. 16, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, more commonly known as the TCPA, began enforcing new regulation to prevent automated sales and marketing calls to mobile phones.

Under the rules, TCPA violations can now cost the offender $500-$1,500 per incident. And those numbers can add up quickly. For example, in some recent high-profiles cases, powerhouses like Google, Jiffy Lube, and Papa John’s have already had to deal with multimillion dollar settlements. Agencies and vendors, large and small, need to be on high alert in how they use automated dialers to contact consumers.

Here are five important TCPA tips to keep out of the legal doghouse:

Know the Law

The best way to ensure that you won’t become a lawsuit target is to stay informed of TCPA rules and regulations. The Federal Communications Commission’s website is a trusted resource. As an organization, decide on a consistent set of guidelines to follow, and make sure everyone, especially employees in call centers, is educated on the applicable rules. It’s also a good idea to seek legal consultation that specializes in telecommunications regulations and FCC laws to ensure compliance.

Get Written Consent

Under the regulation, consumer mobile numbers may no longer receive telephone calls that present an advertisement, or constitute telemarketing, use an automated dialer or an artificial or prerecorded voice (robocall) without a “prior express written consent.” Basically, all that opt-in data floating around won’t be acceptable anymore as evidence of consumer consent.

Scrub lists

Going forward, it’s best to scrub lists every 15 days to ensure protection by the FCC’s 2004 amendment, which gives safe harbor to accidental phone calls to numbers recently ported from landline to mobile. If an organization unintentionally calls a mobile number without consent, it is safeguarded against prosecution if there is proof that the call list had been scrubbed within the previous 15 days.

Invest in third-party data

Hire a third-party service provider that can verify consumer phone numbers, as well as differentiate between cellphones and landlines. This type of verification service to provide more in-depth information on numbers can help you avoid possible errors or missed opportunities.

Written consent is only valid with the same name and number pairing at the time of consent. If a person, who had previously given written consent, changes his or her number, the consent is void.

Don’t take the risks

It’s important for marketers to scrub against a list of cellphone numbers that have already been blocked, as well as a list of landlines that have recently been ported to wireless. It’s also best practice to treat non-fixed VoIP numbers like wireless numbers, just to be on the safe side. After all, some VoIP services, such as Google Voice and Skype, may forward calls on to a cellphone.

As long as your organization does its due diligence, avoids risky overly activity and takes careful precautions, evading potential costly lawsuits should be no problem.

 

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