TCPA compliance consists of guidelines which call centers are expected to follow for the smooth running of the industry. Our guide takes a critical look at the operations of call centers under this new regulation policy.
What Is TCPA?
TCPA is an acronym that stands for ‘Telephone Consumer Protection Act’.
It is a federal statute that was enacted way back in 1991 to protect consumer privacy. The statute consists of restrictions and guidelines on telemarketing communications through the use of SMS texts, voice calls, and Fax.
The unchecked and harassing telemarketing calls led the government to amend the Communications Act of 1934, which gave rise to an amended version of the act, now referred to as the TCPA law in 1991.
Consumer consent is the cornerstone under which the TCPA protects consumers as businesses are now required to adhere to strict solicitation rules and honoring of the National Do Not Call Registry is one among them.
Key Components of TCPA Compliance
- Telephone service providers are prohibited from using automated dialing solutions to call wireless phones or leave any pre-recorded telemarketing messages.
- When a consumer decides to port their landline number to a wireless number, the telephone service provider should cease making voice calls or sending SMS text messages to that line until they receive another written consent from that consumer.
- Consumers may at any time revoke to received calls/SMS messages from telephone service providers in any reasonable time frame or way.
Circumstances Under Which Telephone Service Providers Can Send SMS Messages and Voice Calls to Consumers Without Their Prior Consent:
- Alerts about potential fraud
- Reminders related to urgent medication refills
It should be noted that the company making such communication should offer its consumers an option to ‘opt-out’.
TCPA Compliance Guidelines
- Residences cannot be called before 8:00 am or after 9:00 pm.
- Every telephone service provider must maintain an updated ‘Do Not Call Registry’ for those who have requested not to be called.
- Telephone service providers must adhere to the National DNC ‘Do Not Registry’ failure to which will attract huge fines.
- The name of the telephone service provider must be visible on the Voice calls and SMS texts sent out to consumers.
- Automated agents and recorded calls are prohibited.
Violation of TCPA regulations
Companies found who have violated or not adhered to any of these TCPA regulations risk legal action and can be charged fines of up $1,500 for each violation per lawsuit brought against them by individual consumers.
TCPA Compliance Tips
There are a couple of tips that contact call centers can deploy in-order to stay complaint and these include:
- Manually dial phone calls to consumers
- Obtain proper consent from consumers
- Maintain an updated ‘DNC’ registry
- Partner with only software solution vendors who provide solutions capable of identifying and filtering out numbers from your call list
- Regularly check and remove ported numbers from your calling list
- Continually monitor your call agents’ operations to ensure compliance and avoid litigation.
- Regularly train your call agents on TCPA procedures and requirements.
- Avoid call center software solutions classified as Automatic Telephone Dialing systems (ATDS).
- Only go for call center software solutions that have got in-built TCPA compliance updates.
- Stay informed on TCPA rules and regulations by regularly checking on the Federal communications commission website.
- Source your data from consumer phone number service providers who provide verified consumer phone numbers, categorized into a cell phone and landline numbers.
- The rule of the thumb is that if you’re not sure, just don’t risk it.
The Federal Communications Commission has identified a number of instances that are exempted from their TCPA rules and regulations:
- Debt Collection
According to the FCC, debt collection calls are not telemarketing calls. This is to the extent that they do not contain any telemarketing messages and therefore would not require any written consent if the call was made to a consumer’s residential phone line as opposed to their wireless number which would then now require written or oral consent.
- Research and Survey Calls
- Bank fraud alerts
- Emergency phone calls
- Made by or on behalf of a tax-exempt non-profit organization
- Health care messages as defined in the HIPAA privacy rule
However, these exemptions are only valid to the extent that they do not contain any telemarketing messages.
Download a copy of the Consumer Protection Act outlining these exemptions.
Important Restrictions under the TCPA Rules and Regulations
- Telemarketing calls that go unanswered for more than 15 seconds or four rings should be disconnected.
- The identity of the business, individual or entity responsible for initiating the phone call should clearly identify themselves at the beginning of the phone call.
- During or after the message to the consumer phone line, the company’s number must be stated, and it should not be a number for which charges exceed local or long distance charges.
- Provision of an automated, interactive voice and/or a Key-Press-Activated ‘opt-out’ procedure for the consumer to enable them to lodge a ‘Do Not Call Request’.