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Pay Attention to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) or Pay the Fines

Pay Attention to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) or Pay the Fines

Recent changes in outbound dialing legislation and consumer protection regulations, specifically changes to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), have the outbound dialing sector scrambling. Companies of all sizes in most verticals (with exception of fundraising and political campaigns), including outsourcers who use outbound technology, are struggling to interpret and understand exactly what these new rules mean, their potential impact, and how to apply them.
What is TCPA?

The TCPA, enacted by Congress in 1991, was the first federal law to establish regulations for telemarketing and commercial sales. Intended to safeguard consumers from uninvited sales and telemarketing calls or facsimiles (faxes), the TCPA regulates how, when and to whom commercial solicitation calls (or faxes) can be made. In the original TCPA legislation, companies that had an “established a business relationship” with a consumer could bypass the requirement to obtain written consent from the customer to receive solicitation calls. However, they still had to comply with four other principal requirements that addressed:

  1. Proper caller identification requirements
  2. Calling hour restrictions
  3. Compliance with do not call (DNC) policies/restrictions
  4. Adherence to auto-dialer and automatic dialing recorded message player (ADRMP) regulations
TCPA Enforcement
The FCC and the FTC are responsible for TCPA enforcement. TCPA claims are increasing, in part due to increased diligence in enforcement by these agencies. Individuals, states and the FCC can initiate claims, and high-visibility class action suits are also fueling the rise in TCPA claims. Companies can face steep fines if they are found to be in violation of TCPA regulations.
Tips to Help Contact Centers Comply with TCPA Requirements

The best approach to reduce the risk of litigation and fines resulting from TCPA violations is to gain a thorough understanding of its requirements and to develop and issue written policies and procedures in order to ensure that all business operations and practices are fully compliant. The TCPA requirements apply to land lines, cell numbers, faxes and text (SMS) messages. Here are some suggestions to help companies adhere to TCPA requirements:

  • Draft DNC list policy and procedures.
  • Keep the DNC list current, and ensure that there is an automated process to “scrub” all outbound calling lists.
  • Honor the National Do Not Call Registry; set up audit logs and documentation to prove adherence.
  • Review dialers and notification solutions (“robocallers”) to ensure that they comply with the TCPA.
  • Do not use automated dialing technology of any kind when calling cell phones.
  • Implement TCPA compliance training programs for all customer-facing employees.
  • Set up a formal, documented process to obtain written permission from anyone with whom you want to conduct business.
  • Provide an easy mechanism to allow customers or prospects to opt out of future communications.
  • Require all third-party vendors (outsourcers) to be in compliance with TCPA requirements; using a non-compliant vendor is an unacceptable risk.
  • Establish a trouble-shooting procedure so that employees have a place or person to go to for help when they are in doubt about a TCPA-related matter.
Please note that DMG Consulting LLC provides technical and operational guidance. The materials and recommendations contained herein are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. We urge you to discuss your particular situation with your legal counsel before taking any action.
Final Thoughts
Too many companies are ignoring TCPA, believing that they won’t get caught. This is a mistake, as the government is encouraging consumers to report consumer abuse. If you’re abusing the regulations, you are at risk. DMG encourages all companies to gain a complete understanding of the requirements and to follow the law. To see the complete TCPA Guide, please visit the DMG website.

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Ask the Experts

Question:
We are looking into the possibility of moving our sales agents from set schedules to a flex- schedule environment. Do you have suggestions on the best way to approach this change?

Answer:
While it’s a given that contact centers of all sizes need to schedule agents cost effectively based on hours of operation and forecasted volumes, it’s also important to give agents as much control and choice as possible over their schedules, so they can maintain a satisfying work/life balance.
The first step in migrating your contact center is to specify your definition of “flex schedules.” Does it mean that an agent can be assigned to any shift, or does it mean shifts that are static but outside of the typical scope of normal business hours? Flex hours can also mean a mix of part-time and full-time days within the same shift, or even split shifts… Read More

DMG Consulting LLC is a leading independent research, advisory and consulting firm specializing in unified communications, contact centers, back-office and real-time analytics. Learn more at www.dmgconsult.com.