The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) monitors and standardizes telemarketing calls, auto-dialed calls, pre-recorded calls, text messages, and unsolicited faxes.
Passed by Congress in 1991, the TCPA works to ensure that telemarketing is appropriately used throughout the United States. It helps businesses to only send information or messages to potential customers that actually want to know more about their products or services. For example, unless a recipient has provided prior consent, solicitors may not call residences before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. of their local time. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) enforces the TCPA and the regulations in Title 47 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). According to the FCC, they utilize “notice and comment” rule making by giving the public notice that it is considering adopting or modifying rules on a particular subject and seeks the public’s comment.
So how can the government enforce the TCPA?
The FCC states that it issues hundreds of millions of dollars in enforcement actions against illegal robocallers, empowers phone companies to block by default illegal or unwanted calls based on reasonable call analytics before the calls reach consumers, allows consumer options on tools to block calls from any number that doesn’t appear on a customer’s contact list or other “white list, ” urges phone companies to implement caller ID authentication to help reduce illegal spoofing, and makes consumer complaint data available to enable better call blocking and labeling solutions. Despite this, the majority of TCPA compliance violations are reported by consumers. Federal law allows individuals to file lawsuits and collect damages in response to any calls that violate the TCPA. Based on reports from the FCC and court records, these cases typically lead to damages of $500 to $1,500 per text or call being awarded to the defendant or $1,500 per call or text message if the violation was knowingly made. In other words, the FCC, paired with everyday consumers, monitor all businesses for TCPA compliance through financial and legal repercussions.
The TCPA is pretty specific, but are all businesses adhering to them?
To simplify an incredibly complex issue, the answer is no. One of the most simple ways that a business may violate the TCPA is by not providing an option for consumers to opt out of receiving additional calls, emails, texts, etc. from the establishment or through neglecting to inform customers on how their information will be used. However, the most common way that the TCPA is being breached is through purchased data. For example, many industries search for potential leads through caller ID’s that are bought from other companies. Let’s say that a consumer calls about car insurance. The consumer does not give this car insurance company permission to call them back or use their phone number. Despite this, the car insurance company sells the consumer’s ID to a life insurance company and claims that the consumer gave permission to utilize their telephone number. When the life insurance company makes an outbound call to the customer belonging to this caller ID, they are breaking the TCPA because of the lack of permission from the consumer. As a result of this, the consumer can easily sue for their information being mishandled and the violation from the life insurance company regardless of whether the car insurance company told the life insurance company that the consumer had given permission. Essentially, the TCPA requires every business to ensure the consent of consumer prior to making outbound calls because purchased caller ID’s are not always reliably compliant to the statute. Additionally, many consumers are growing increasingly angry at the TCPA violating calls, texts, and emails that they receive. Therefore, businesses need to prioritize TCPA compliance and work to ensure that every caller ID is vetted in order to ensure that all parties, customer and establishment personnel, are satisfied and free of legal woes.
Your business should want to follow the TCPA.
Consumers tend to become quite angry when their phones or emails are constantly bombarded with unwanted messages. This can lead to your business losing a positive reputation and quickly being associated with annoyance. However, there are several ways for you to ensure that you are TCPA compliant. You must always tell consumers exactly what their phone number will be used for. For opt-in calls, or communication when the consumer gives permission to receive messages, it is imperative that the opt-in mechanisms be clearly stated in an easily comprehensible format in order to ensure customer understanding as they give their consent to be contacted. This can come in many different forms. For example, as found by Twilio, the most common forms of opting in are a “Handset Opt-In,” which is when the consumer texts a phone number in order to opt in and a “Non-Handset Opt-In,” which is when the consumer opting in through different types of consumer action outside of sending an SMS, such as through a web form or app. Additionally, consumers may opt in through “IVR Opt-In,” which is an interactive voice response phone tree and “Point of Sale (POS) Opt-In,” which is made after a purchase, such as when a consumer chooses to opt in to a loyalty rewards program or receive their receipt in a text.
Unfortunately, as stated by Twilio, one form of consent is not enough. An opt-in confirmation message should be sent to ensure that the consumer is reminded of what they’ve agreed to and the consent be permanently commemorated through a written copy, which can be electronic or created with a pen and paper. Additionally, your business should remind the potential buyer periodically that they are still registered to receive these messages. This will
ensure that consumers have multiple chances to opt-out of the communication and stop receiving unwanted messages.
Furthermore, opt-outs absolutely must be honored. This means that the customer can revoke their consent to receive a message. It does not matter what medium the business is using. In fact, the Federal Communications Commission has stated that consumers need to be able to opt-out through “any reasonable means.” Accordingly, you should be careful to not unreasonably restrict how consumers can express their desire to opt out of further messages from you. In other words, a customer should be able to revoke their consent at any time and should immediately stop being contacted.
Does mobileFUSED prioritize TCPA compliance?
At mobileFUSED, TCPA compliance is prioritized, not only for legal purposes, but also to show customers that their privacy and information matters. For this purpose, mobileFUSED rarely utilizes outbound calls and does not use robocalls or artificial intelligence. In order for an outbound call to be utilized, the company working with mobileFUSED must provide proof of TCPA compliance as well as the URL and proof of checkbox permission. When this process is completed, then mobileFUSED will allow live transfers from lead providers. These live transfers require a prescreening in which someone may choose whether they would like to speak to someone or if they would prefer to not be contacted again. Just as well, mobileFUSED monitors the calls in order to ensure that the TCPA is being upheld as well as to search for any possible upset consumers. So, if a customer is angry that their number was called, then mobileFUSED will immediately shut the campaign down in order to ensure that the consumer is no longer distressed and to investigate why such an issue occured. Basically, mobileFUSED works continuously in order to ensure that any and all outbound calls are compliant with the TCPA and that consumers are not having their privacy violated by illegal, unwelcome calls. As always, mobileFUSED takes the extra steps necessary to ensure that they provide only the most legitimate, high quality service. To learn more about the Telephone Consumer Protection Act or issues regarding its compliance, give mobileFUSED a call today. Let us explain further details and regulations of the TCPA to you as well as how we work tirelessly to meet them!