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Companies Will be Fined for Using Predictive Dialers to Make Calls to Reassigned Numbers

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May 24, 2012

Companies Will be Fined for Using Predictive Dialers to Make Calls to Reassigned Numbers

By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor

If you use a predictive dialer for your outbound call center business, how certain are you that you're completely compliant with federal and state legislation? You may think that by buying the required lists and attempting to do some list scrubbing you're safe, but what if you accidentally call a mobile phone number? Or call a number that has been reassigned?

Ignorance of the latter scenario is no longer a defense. Recently, in a case with potentially wide-ranging implications for compliance with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit found that a organization that places an automated call to a reassigned number without the prior express consent of the new recipient may be held liable for statutory damages, even if the previous subscriber with that number had consented to the automated calls. 

The case, Soppet v. Enhanced Recovery Co., was about two consumers with overdue bills who had consented to receive automated calls on their mobile phones, but then changed phone numbers. As a result, when a collection agency used a predictive dialer to attempt to contact the consumers at the provided numbers, the calls instead were received by the new subscribers to whom those mobile phone numbers had been reassigned. The recipients of the calls then filed a class action against the collection agency, seeking statutory damages under the TCPA for each call on the ground that they were unsolicited automated calls.

Enhanced Recovery Co. unsuccessfully sought summary judgment on the grounds that the intended recipients of the calls had consented to receiving automated calls. For its part, the Seventh Circuit affirmed a previous ruling by a district court that found that the consent of the intended targets of the automated calls – the previous owners of the numbers – did not shield the collection agency from liability under the TCPA. As the basis for the decision, the Seventh Circuit cited the language of the TCPA, which consistently uses the phrase “called party” to refer to the actual rather than the intended recipient of the call.

So how, precisely, can a company know if it's calling reassigned numbers? Some of today's professional predictive dialer solutions can help you stay up-to-date with scrubbed lists, preventing costly fines and legal fees that can come along with calling the wrong numbers. Many of today's call center dialing solutions – SpitFire is one – are available on a hosted basis, and offer the kind of features that premise-based dialers cannot, including real-time updates to lists, helping prevent fines and illegally dialed numbers.

For more information about SpitFire, click here.

Edited by Jamie Epstein

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