While many businesses have shifted their focus away from cold calling as their primary route of finding new customers, it can still be an effective option for business owners in many industries. However, thanks to other corporations abusing the technology, measures have been put in place to regulate how businesses can call potential customers. Before you start using telemarketing, cold calls, or autodialed calls as part of your marketing strategy, make sure you understand what you can and cannot do under the TCPA.
An Introduction to the TCPA
The TCPA or Telephone Consumer Protection Act became law in 1991. Designed to protect consumers from excessive telemarketing calls, it has expanded over the years to accommodate new communication methods. Since 2013, the TCPA has required written consent for text messages, autodialed calls, and prerecorded calls to wireless numbers. It also requires businesses to obtain written consent for pre-recorded calls to landline home numbers.
Communications Governed by the TCPA
The TCPA has a fairly narrow scope. The standards implemented by the TCPA apply to telemarketing calls, autodialed calls, text messages, pre-recorded calls, and unsolicited faxes. Per the FCC, the TCPA does not apply to debt collection calls.
Complying with the TCPA
Businesses have to follow a stringent list of restrictions to comply with the TCPA. To comply with the TCPA while contacting consumers, businesses must:
- Not call residences before 8am or after 9pm (determined by the phone call recipient’s local time zone)
- Keep a list of consumers who do not want to be called—this list must be honored for at least five years
- Not send unsolicited advertising faxes
- Adhere to the numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry
- Provide their name, the name of company they are calling from, and a phone number or address where consumers can contact the company
- Not call residences with a prerecorded message or artificial voice
- Not call emergency lines
- Avoid autodialed calls that use two or more phone lines
Some calls that do not fall under the TCPA include calls made for emergency purposes, calls made for commercial purposes but that do not include advertisements, and calls made for a tax-exempt nonprofit organization.
What Happens if You Violate the TCPA
Business owners and their representatives should be familiar with the requirements of the TCPA, since violations can be costly. If a violation occurs, an individual may sue for as much as $1,500 per violation or actual financial losses—whichever amount is higher. As more and more consumers have become aware of the TCPA and the rights it provides, lawsuits for violations have increased.
Compliance is an important part of owning a business. If you’re ready to check your business practices and protect your company from lawsuits, turn to Trembly Law Firm. Schedule a consultation now by calling us at 305-431-5678.