Is Your Telemarketing Compliant? The FCC Will Publicly Shame You if Not
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is continuing to crack down on telephone spam. Going forward, the FCC will release on a weekly basis all data on robocall and telemarketing complaints. The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) also releases similar data in addition to levying hefty fines on companies who do not comply with Do Not Call (DNC) lists.
Telemarketing Violation Fines
In August, the FCC issued its largest fine ever for a company violating robocall rules. Travel Club Marketing was fined a total of $2.96 million for making 185 calls to cell phones and landlines, most of whom were on the DNC list.
Robocalls include automated phone calls made using autodialers, as well as those that contain pre-recorded messages. Under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), individuals must provide express consent to receive certain types of calls and have the right to tell these companies, including debt collectors, to stop calling. For each unwanted call, a consumer may be able to collect between $500 and $1,500.
If you use telemarketing as part of your B2B or B2C campaigns, the costs will quickly add up if aren’t diligent about maintaining your phone data. Many companies aren’t fully aware of the laws and regulations regarding telemarketing campaigns. Be sure to fully understand the regulations outlined in the TCPA, which regulates telemarketing calls, auto-dialed calls, prerecorded calls, text messages, and unsolicited faxes. In addition to federal laws, many states have their own set of regulations and telemarketers may be subject to the laws of every state to which they make calls.
Meet the Regulations
Make sure that your phone campaigns meet regulations by processing your telemarketing lists against all current Do-Not-Call (DNC) files. A vendor specializing in DNC suppression services will flag or suppress phone numbers that match any of the following files:
- National FTC Do-Not-Call File
- State Do-Not-Call Files
- Direct Marketing Association Preference Service File
- Disconnect Telephone File
- Wireless Blocked Numbers
In addition to DNC list scrubbing, for many marketers, it’s important to be able to identify and flag wireless telephone numbers. Wireless Identification Services should include processes to identify wireless telephone numbers so they may be flagged on customer data files. This will typically include:
- Use of a Telecom Routing Administration file to identify blocks of wireless assigned telephone numbers. Data provided should include the assigned service provider, the type of service that is provided (e.g. wireless), the associated Rate Center and State/Province/Country, and a Portability Indicator.
- Use of a ported telephone number file to identify phone numbers ported from landlines to cell, and cell to landlines.
- Identification of cell phones by area code/exchange and block ID (7th digit of phone number). A match indicates the number has been assigned to a wireless carrier.
Companies using data for telemarketing should ensure that they process their data as described above immediately preceding any outbound auto dialing campaign to avoid FCC fines or other actions. Additionally, companies should consider including this process in their inbound customer service calls to identify wireless callers at the time of the call.
Telemarketing has been around for decades because it works. It is a great tool for appointment setting, creating personalized connections with customers, identification of up-sell or cross sell opportunities, lead development and lead nurturing. Phone campaigns can be a successful tactic when incorporated into multi-channel marketing strategies, but businesses must be extra diligent or risk getting slapped with hefty fines.