Telephone solicitations are all about marketing products and service, they’re a form of advertisements. But when you give your consent or you have a relationship with a business, that’s not considered a telephone solicitation. Under the telephone consumer protection act, telephone solicitations are prohibited and are governed by some rules which every telemarketer must take into account before they start disturbing individuals.
If there is an established business relationship (EBR) between the caller and the consumer, there isn’t any problem as long as the consumer did not request to opt-out of calling list. There is said to be EBR if the consumer makes a purchase or make an inquiry regarding a particular product or services. TCPA (Telephone Consumer protection act) provides rules and regulations that govern telemarketing calls, text messages, pre-recorded calls, auto-dialed calls, and unsolicited faxes.
TCPA Restrictions On Telephone Solicitations
As it has been said earlier not every phone call is regarded as a telephone solicitation. Debt collection calls, for example, are exempted to this. FCC states clearly auto-dialed debt collection calls are not telemarketing calls provided the call didn’t contain any telemarketing message. Debt collection calls don’t require any consent from the consumer, but there are some exceptional cases where permission still is needed.
TCPA Risks And Recommendations
Do Not Call Registry
The federal communication commission established the do not call database. Any individual or company that doesn’t want to receive telemarketing messages should include their number, and hence it’s a must for any telemarketing to update his phone list so that he doesn’t make the mistake of calling companies that are included in the Do Not Call registry.
Most companies use third parties to handle their telemarketing activities, and there is nothing wrong with choosing a third party, but you have to be careful when choosing third parties because if they break the rules your business and the third party provider will be prosecuted.
Telemarketing v Informational Messages
Sometimes when there is a claim in the court some telemarketers get confused with informational and telemarketing messages. Whenever you’re in doubt just consider it telemarketing. Seek advice from a good lawyer so that you don’t end up in trouble. Many businesses have lost cases where they misinterpret solicitation messages as informational.
Get Consumers Consent
If you want to save yourself this sort of problem you should get the consumers’ consent first before you start sending messages and calls. Consumers’ consent provides a strong defense against most TCPA practices. When getting consumers’ consent you should state clearly that you will be sending automated calls and messages, you may add some twists telling the consumer that your calls contain valuable info or discounted offers. In most cases, this should be done online before a consumer submits the phone number he has to agree to the terms and conditions. You should provide the option for consumers to opt-out of your calling list as well.
* Do not call after 9 pm.
* Avoid calling Do Not Call Registry.
* You can make a call for emergency purposes.
* Manual calls that do not contain any auto send messages or calls
* Calls made on behalf of a tax-exempt non-profit organization
Requirement Of Pre-Recorded Voice Messages
* At the beginning of the message, any individual or business must clearly reveal their true identity.
* At the end of the automated message, you should state your phone number or the phone of the business that’s calling, NOT the auto-dialer. This should be a phone number that will be responded to by a human.
* You must provide an automated key in your message so that the consumer can opt-out automatically from your list. That is to say, you should allow individuals to send a do not call request.
TCPA allow consumers to claim for damages and file lawsuits. But before filing a lawsuit make sure you should know the rules and regulations in your state regarding telemarketing. In some states providing a phone number during a credit application is considered as a consumers’ consent while in other states it isn’t considered as consent.
If you have any TCPA issues or have any question you should find out the applicability of TCPA in your business from your organization counsel. Violating TCPA rules can really get anyone into trouble. One of the best ways to minimize the risk of getting into trouble to get consent from consumers before you send them any telemarketing messages. Since we’re living in the digital world, you should consider having landing pages where any person giving you their contact details will have to agree to your terms of service before they submit their contact info, whether it’s email or phone number. In your terms and conditions page make sure to state all your terms clearly so that you can defend yourself when a suit arises.
Visit either our Gainesville or Ocala, Florida offices if you have any problem with telemarketing solicitations so that we can resolve any issue that might have.