The answer is a resounding YES. Your business is in danger for as long as serial litigators can profit from continuing to target businesses that use telemarketing. Their mission is to entrap businesses, like yours, with exaggerated or fabricated claims of TCPA violations. Even those that follow the compliance rules are potential victims of serial litigators who seek profit by exploiting TCPA’s aggressive consumer protection stance against marketers.
Serial Litigators know that under the TCPA, they can collect up to $1,500 for each call that violates the regulations. By misusing the intent of the TCPA, serial litigators can mislead businesses with vague or contradictory requests to be removed or added to your contact lists. After they have collected records over several years of calls from your business, they will turn around and file a TCPA lawsuit against your business for each phone call they received.
In 2016 TCPA litigation rose 30% over the previous year.
Driving the increase in litigation is the lure of easy money for attorneys. Filing TCPA lawsuits has now become big business. Law firms who actively seeking these plaintiffs have even developed cell phone apps that simplify the process of capturing calls in order to submit claims, making it as easy as possible for serial litigators to register complaints.
Not surprising, the telemarketing industry has lobbied the FCC and Congress to scale back the reach and impact of the TCPA. Those efforts have been largely unsuccessful. On the positive side for marketers, courts are beginning to notice the unintended consequence of the TCPA in the practice of abusive attorneys filing frivolous claims. In the coming years we may see some gradual changes in how the regulations are enforced.
Your Best Defense Against Serial Litigators
- Document Telemarketing Practices. It is essential that your business have undeniable proof that you are following the best telemarketing practices. The burden of proof is largely on your business to defend itself against the claims made by consumers and their attorneys. With that in mind, it is important to maintain documentation of all of your interactions with consumers.
- Train Agents to Recognize Serial Litigators. It is equally important to have policies in place for dealing with consumers whose intentions are dubious. Part of your strategy should include training agents to recognize serial litigators. Here are a couple contact situations to be scrutinized by your agents.
- Contacts Asking Odd Questions. These types of question include: “Can you send me your DNC policy?”; “In what state are you incorporated?”; “Who owns the company?”; “Which company gave you my number?”; “I assume you’re recording this?”; and “What sort of dialer are you using?”. When a contact begins using your agents to collect information on your business, red flags should be waving.
- Contacts Referencing the TCPA. The average consumer doesn’t know about the TCPA or what they need to say to begin formulating a legal action. This type of call can only mean trouble.
- Handling Suspect Calls. When your agent believes that the contact may be a serial litigator, they should: 1.) Immediately and politely terminate the call; 2.) Flag and pause future calls to that lead while management reviews it to determine if it should be transferred to your internal DNC.
How to Stop Serial Litigators
In this era of rampant TCPA lawsuits, you must identify serial litigators hidden in your contact data before calling. To do that, you need an expert compliance provider with years of proven industry experience.
If you are working with a compliance provider, such as Contact Center Compliance, you are on the right track. Ask for their Litigator Scrub* service. As specialists in the field, Contact Center Compliance manages an up-to-date list of all known serial/professional litigants who target businesses like yours for costly lawsuits.
A few hours of data processing could spare your business years of legal expenses and the negative publicity that comes with a TCPA class action.
To learn more about this and other compliance services, sign up for a complimentary strategy session with one of our team members or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 866-DNC-LIST (362-5478).
*Litigator Scrub is winner of the 2017 PACE Technovation Award for Enterprise Edition with Litigator Scrub and TCPA Verification.