There are various ways companies can market their products and services these days: social media, blogging, email marketing, etc. However, even with all those fairly new options, one method that has been used for decades now still remains: telemarketing. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), in effect since 1991, regulates telephone solicitations as well as the use of automated equipment. If your business uses telemarketing, here are a few things you should know about the TCPA.
Please use this as general information, not as legal advice. If you have any questions regarding telemarketing rules and regulations, please consult an attorney.
#1 What is an automatic telephone dialing system?
The TCPA has provides us the definition below:
The term “automatic telephone dialing system” means equipment which has the capacity –
(A) To store or produce telephone numbers to be called, using a random or sequential number generator; and
(B) To dial such numbers.
#2 Consent is required
One of the main things you should keep in mind as a business who uses telemarketing is that the TCPA requires you to obtain from your consumers express written consent to receive telemarketing calls (this includes SMS messages, so if you are texting your list TCPA applies) initiated by automatic dialing systems, using artificial voices, or using pre-recorded messages (automatic dialing systems can however be used for calling residential numbers).
What does express written consent look like, you ask? An agreement consigning this consent must be signed by the consumer, include the phone number to be called, and inform the consumer that his consent is not a condition of purchasing your products or services. It must be made clear that automated systems will be used and the consumer must give his express consent, in the agreement, to receive telemarketing calls.
#3 Opting out should always be an option
Of course, when consent can be given, it can also be taken back. When using prerecord telemarketing messages or abandoned call messages, you must put in place an automatic process allowing consumers to opt out and be automatically added to your company’s do not call (DNC) list. If you are in a situation where the consumer is listening to your message after the phone call was made (on a voice mailbox, for instance), you must allow your consumers to call a toll-free number that will connect them to the automatic opt-out system you have in place. Keep in mind that ultimately, opting must be an easy process for your consumers.
#4 You need a proper DNC system
Allowing your consumers to get on your DNC list is one thing, having a proper DNC system is another one. The TCPA requires businesses to have a written internal DNC policy. It is also important to properly train your personnel to make sure they not only apply your policy, properly record consumer requests, but also respect the TCPA in general. Do not forget that DNC requests must be honored for 5 years, and that you must, at all times, respect the national DNC list.
As with all Law on the Runway posts, please use this as general information, not as legal advice. There are multiple TCPA requirements, aside from the ones mentioned in this blog post, that you should be aware of. If you have any questions regarding the Telephone Consumer Protection Act or if you need assistance with complying to the TCPA, you may email firstname.lastname@example.org.