Tue, 01/02/2018 - 09:13
Telemarketing regulations are very complex and often confusing to companies both large and small. That is especially true for business-to-business marketers. For them there exists a gray area for determining whether the TCPA regulations are applicable to their marketing campaigns. Marketers lost in this gray area, risk exposing their business to unwanted TCPA violations and lawsuits.
Contrary to what you may believe, business-to-business marketers are not exempt from the TCPA. When calling wireless numbers, consent is still required if an automatic dialing system (ATDS) is used. From a legal perspective, it doesn’t matter if the intended recipient was a consumer or business contact. What does matter is who actually answers the phone when you call.
The problem for business-to-business marketers is that the TCPA regulations against calling cell phone numbers with an ATDS apply to any business that calls a consumer’s wireless number. Intent is not a legal consideration.
Complicating matters is the issue of recycled wireless numbers which don’t simply transfer from one person to another, but can also transfer from business to personal use. That means that telemarketers can never totally be certain that the numbers they call are wireless or landline, nor can they be guaranteed that each number is that of the business they intended to contact.
For business-to-business marketers, calling is comparable to navigating a minefield of potential class action lawsuits. Making the situation worse, there are predatory plaintiffs trying to trip you up. They are well-versed in TCPA regulations and seek to take advantage of the law and the judicial system by alleging damages to achieve a financial settlement for each regulatory violation. At the same time your business must continue calling to stay in business.
Protecting your business must be the priority. To maneuver through this complex regulatory minefield, your business must maintain accurate records of all marketing activities and contacts. You should implement policies and procedures that describe in detail how to obtain and store written consent from customers.
Navigating a safe path requires partnering with a reputable compliance provider such as Contact Center Compliance who works directly with the wireless carriers to track recycled wireless numbers to scrub against your calling data. Once they are flagged, you can treat them differently by choosing how best to contact them.
FCC Guidelines for Reassigned Numbers
To address the issue of reassigned numbers, the FCC has provided the following guidelines. Whether your intent is to market to consumers or businesses, it is best that you follow these guidelines which include identifying reassigned numbers.
- Interactive Opt-out. Include an interactive opt-out mechanism in all artificial or prerecorded voice calls so that recipients may easily report a reassigned or wrong number.
- Wrong Number Reports. Implement procedures for recording wrong number reports received by customer service representatives placing outbound calls.
- New Phone Number Recordings. Implement processes for allowing customer service agents to record new phone numbers when receiving calls from customers.
- Request Information Updates. Periodically send an email or mail request to the consumer to update his or her contact information.
- Recognize Triple Tones. Utilize an autodialer’s and/or a live caller’s ability to recognize “triple-tones” that identify and record disconnected numbers.
- Reassigned Number Policy. Establish policies for determining whether a number has been reassigned if there has been no response to a “two-way” call after a period of attempting to contact a consumer.
- Texting Information Updates. Enable customers to update contact information by responding to any text message they receive, which may increase a customer’s likelihood of reporting phone number changes and reduce the likelihood of a caller dialing a reassigned number.
Though the FCC provided these guidelines, they do not guarantee safe harbor protection for businesses acting in good faith. Any time telemarketers call a wireless number there is a liability risk for calls or texts being delivered to the recipient of a reassigned number. Ultimately, your business is responsible for taking every possible precaution to ensure that reassigned numbers are scrubbed from your calling lists.
TCPA litigation has strayed far from Congress’s intent for establishing the TCPA. Since its creation in 1991, we have seen major changes in technology which have left parts of it outdated and ineffective. At present, the corrective responsibility has been left for the courts to interpret the intent of the TCPA and make precedent setting rulings that have had rippling and, in some cases, crippling effects on businesses.
The courts are making decisions on whether normal communications from businesses are intrusive violations of consumer privacy. This in turn has created a new industry for a sophisticated network of serial litigators pretending to be ordinary consumers. They use regulatory confusion in consumer protection to abuse the system by turning TCPA lawsuits into big business.
For business-to-business marketers, it is especially difficult as more wireless numbers are reassigned each day. That is why it is imperative to perform a wireless scrub prior to using an ATDS. It’s an inexpensive service that cleans your calling data and could potentially save you thousands resulting from a TCPA lawsuit.
The process doesn’t reduce the number of callable leads, but allows you to separate those leads for manual dialing.
Don’t be fooled into believing you can’t be caught for TCPA violations simply because your business fallows the rules. It only takes one alleged mistake to land you in court. Wireless scrubbing is a low cost alternative to being entangled in drawn-out court battles and expensive consumer settlements.
The best protection for your business is an experienced compliance provider such as Contact Center Compliance. The best way to avoid becoming the next defendant in a costly TCPA class action is to use services like TCPA Wireless IDSM. Our compliance services will identify:
- Wireless Data in Real-time
- Wireless vs. Landline Numbers Prior to Dialing
- Carrier and Ported Wireless Numbers
To learn more about these and other compliance services that enhance the effectiveness of your contact lists, sign up for a complimentary compliance audit with one of our team members or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 866-DNC-LIST (362-5478).