Let’s face it—we all hate spam calls. But imagine it’s 1990; around 12:30 am, in the dead of night, you hear it—the dreaded ringing of the telephone. Who could it be? Immediately, your mind begins racing through the list of potential candidates: Dad, with his bad back must’ve fallen. Worse, Mom’s knee might’ve given out. Great Aunt Becky could’ve had another stroke. You run to the phone, prepared for the worst.
And then, as if on cue, a robotic voice on the other end says it wants to, “speak to the vehicle owner about extending your warranty.”
Frustrating events like this led Congress to pass the Telephone Consumer Protection Act in 1991. TCPA ensures safety and courtesy for consumers with regard to telemarketing calls (inclusive of auto-dialed calls and prerecorded calls). It also includes regulations for text messages and unsolicited faxes. The TCPA Principles outlined assist businesses who are engaging in telemarketing strategies with being and becoming compliant with the act. Let’s dive in!
Please note: All companies engaging in telemarketing efforts should consult with legal counsel prior to implementing TCPA principles or asserting TCPA compliance. This list is intended to serve as a primer to understanding TCPA and should not be taken as legal advice.
- Companies are required to maintain their own “do not call” list. If a person who is called requests to be taken off the company’s call list, they should be put on the “do not call” list and not contacted again.
- Businesses must honor the National Do Not Call Registry. The NDNCR is a government-run organization that keeps a list of all who do not wish to be called by telemarketers and autodialers. All companies must utilize call lists that are up to date with the NDNCR.
- Calls cannot be made before 8 am or after 9 pm.
- Telephone solicitors are required to provide their name, the corporation on whose behalf the call is being made, and their contact information, should the person wish to call back.
- Pre-recorded calls are prohibited to be delivered to:
- An emergency responder line (911, 311, etc.)
- Any number that’s associated with healthcare providers (hospital, physician’s office, elder care facilities, etc.)
- A cell phone
- Any call for which the recipient is charged for the call
- When calling a business that has multiple phone lines, auto-dialed calls are not to be placed on more than one of those lines.
- Unsolicited faxes, particularly those used for advertising purposes, are prohibited.
What happens if an organization violates TCPA?
Should an entity be found to have knowingly and intentionally violated TCPA, a telephone subscriber is permitted to sue for up to three times damages. Each violation is roughly equivalent to $500, so victims of TCPA violations are typically entitled to $1500 in damages per violation. However, if the actual monetary loss exceeds the $500 damage, the victim may sue for the larger sum of money. Finally, the victim is also entitled to seek an injunction (an authoritative warning or order), should they feel one is necessary. If you are a victim of a TCPA violation, read more about your legal options at the link here.
Who must comply with TCPA?
In short, everyone! The legislation specifically states that TCPA applies to, “any person within the United States, or any person outside the United States if the recipient is within the United States.”
However, those who should be particularly aware are all businesses that are engaging in telemarketing and auto-dialing efforts or utilizing SMS (text) messages to reach consumers, particularly those who are customers or prospective customers. To read the legislation on the FCC’s website, click here.
Where does TCPA fall short?
TCPA is excellent legislation for those companies that operate legally and are not attempting to engage in fraud or theft. Most of those upstanding companies value brand loyalty and seek to leave their customers or prospective customers with a positive experience. TCPA aims to make customers feel safe and unencumbered by annoyingly timed calls or an onslaught of unwanted calls; this aids these “good” companies in their brand loyalty and image efforts.
Unfortunately, TCPA can be difficult to enforce with small-scale crime. But because telemarketing is a relatively low-cost fraud strategy, bad actors continue to violate TCPA regulations for deceptive and criminal purposes. While these phone numbers are often eventually blocked by carriers, fraudsters often use many phone numbers and switch them often to evade being caught. Hiya analyzes phone numbers to quickly identify spammers/spoofers and mark them as spam, or block the call entirely.
To learn more about Hiya and TCPA Compliance, please reach out here.