December 19, 2018 by Siobhan Climer
The explosive growth of the contact center and outbound dialing during the 1980s induced Congress to enact the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) in 1991. The TCPA applies to the use of auto-dialers, artificial voice messages, and telemarketing calls, and contains do-not-call list procedures and opt-in/opt-out mechanisms. Recent lawsuits have struggled to identify the legal definitions behind these laws, leaving contact centers with outbound calling capabilities at risk.
Who Needs To Maintain TCPA Compliance?
The TCPA applies specifically to outbound telemarketing calls to third-party generated leads. Any business or individual using an auto-dialer, artificial or prerecorded voice messages, or a telemarketing methodology must have “prior express written consent” to place calls to a cell phone. The adoption of more specific restrictions in 2013 increases the complexity of maintaining TCPA compliance. One of the regulatory changes in this release also requires telemarketers to provide an automated and interactive “opt-out” mechanism during a robocall.
It is important to note that the TCPA applies to anyone making these kinds of outbound calls. If even one part of your business uses generated leads to inform outbound calling, you must be TCPA compliant. Understanding the multiple customer journey paths within your contact center is an important component of identifying whether the TCPA applies to you. Performing a contact center roadmap can give you guidance. Read more in our eBook Customers Drive, You Navigate: Your Contact Center Roadmap to Customer Care Success.
Why You Need To Maintain TCPA Compliance
The TCPA doesn’t just provide guidance. State Attorney Generals may bring forth lawsuits in federal court. Companies may receive fines or be forced to pay actual damages. If a company is shown to have violated TCPA knowingly, they can be fined $1,500.00 per violation. In addition to federal court, many states also maintain laws specific to wireless activity. Failing TCPA compliance may, therefore, induce more fines.
In August of 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposed a fine of $82 million to Best Insurance Contracts, Inc., which intentionally misidentified itself to 21 million callers via Caller ID. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who oversaw the law suit, delivered a scathing address. In it, he also reinforced the purpose of TCPA compliance. “We will do everything in our power,” Chairman Pai stated, “to put you [robocallers] out of business.”
Whether it’s a fine that puts you out of business, or the loss of your brand reputation and loyalty, failing to maintain TCPA compliance can severely impact your business.
The 5 TCPA Restrictions
- Calls that violate a consumer’s request to not receive calls.
- Telemarketing calls to residential landlines.
- Telemarketing and informational calls and texts to wireless lines.
- Calls to medical facilities and emergency numbers and/or calls that interfere with multiple business lines.
- Telemarketing transmissions to fax machines.
Opt-ins And Opt-outs For TCPA Compliance
“Prior express written consent” is an essential component of the FCC regulations, and applies to text messages as well. You must provide clear, action-based steps to customers. They may check a box or reply with a specific typed response. The TCPA also requires you to store these opt-in messages for at least 5 years, making it essential to have a backup policy for your TCPA compliance.
It is just as essential to make opt-outs easy for your customers. Under the TCPA, you must honor all opt-outs immediately and make the opt-out process reasonable and accessible.
Autodialer Clarity? Maybe
Recently, several lawsuits – including the ACA Int’l v. Federal Communications Commission and Marks v. Crunch San Diego LLC – have sought clarity over the autodialer restrictions in the TCPA. At the heart of these cases is what exactly is an autodialer. In 2015, the FCC determined any system that can store or produce telephone numbers. In September of 2018, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit overruled the 2015 FCC guidance, leaving many autodialer-users in limbo. Currently, many organizations are seeking further clarification on the autodialer language.
TCPA Compliance And The Contact Center
The trouble with TCPA compliance is that even the potential of your communication systems to perform outbound calling puts you and your business at risk. It is essential, to find a contact center specialist who knows the technology that drives your business inside and out. Find out more about contact center solutions and the experts behind the technology with Mindsight, a Cisco Gold Partner and Genesys Partner.
Contact us today to discuss your contact center strategy.
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About The Author
Siobhan Climer, Science and Technology Writer for Mindsight, writes about technology trends in education, healthcare, and business. She previously taught STEM programs in elementary classrooms and museums, and writes extensively about cybersecurity, disaster recovery, cloud services, backups, data storage, network infrastructure, and the contact center. When she’s not writing tech, she’s writing fantasy, gardening, and exploring the world with her twin two-year old daughters. Find her on twitter @techtalksio.