The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) was passed into law in 1991, empowering the Federal Communications Commission to issue rules and regulations for the industry. Among other things, the TCPA allows individuals to file lawsuits and collect damages for receiving unsolicited telemarketing calls, faxes, pre-recorded calls or autodialed calls. It was the precursor to the more well-known National Do Not Call registry that became law in 2004.
Beginning October 16, prior express written consent will now be required for all autodialed and/or pre-recorded calls or texts sent or made to cell phones, and pre-recorded calls made to residential land lines for marketing purposes. This is going to have a huge impact on telemarketers and their related business. Even prior to this, class-action lawsuits have cost companies millions of dollars in recent years and there is no shortage of controversies and confusion regarding the shifting regulatory landscape.
So, what can call centers do to protect themselves? A recent piece in the “Collection Advisor” newsletter offered some simple tips:
- All creditors, including healthcare providers, government agencies, utility and cellular phone companies, should update their application forms to include appropriate disclosure and consent provisions regarding their right, and the rights of any agents or debt buyers, to communicate with the consumer on their cell phone about payment obligations.
- Debt collectors should work with their clients to establish a system to segregate cell phone from land line numbers, which are transferred to the debt collector only if the creditor will warrant it obtained the cell phone number directly from the consumer.
- Debt collectors and subsequent purchasers should scrub all telephone numbers associated with the account to determine whether the numbers are cell phone numbers and remove them from autodialer campaigns.
- Debt collectors and subsequent purchasers should establish appropriate policies and procedures to prevent the inadvertent call to a wireless number and invoke a policy that wireless numbers must be dialed manually unless the agency or debt purchaser has obtained the requisite consent.
- Debt buyers should ensure the purchase agreement for a consumer debt portfolio includes a warranty that the creditor obtained the express consent of the consumer for subsequent purchasers of the debt to contact them using a cellular telephone number.
- Debt collectors should verify and update what is appearing on caller identification devices when placing outbound calls.
That’s just smattering of the info needed, so on Tuesday, Sept 24 at 1:00 p.m. (EDT), CallMiner (News - Alert), a cloud-based conversational analytics solution provider for improving agent performance across all contact channels, will be hosting a webinar titled, “Understanding and Responding to TCPA changes.” Jeff Herz, director of Internal Operations and Compliance at CUnet, and Scott Kendrick, vice president of Marketing and Product Management at CallMiner, will discuss the TCPA updates, the importance of transparency and quality monitoring in the call center, and how CUnet has provided value to its customers using speech analytics.
Any company that uses an auto-dialer in its business, or reaches out to consumers in any way, should join this discussion to get the inside scoop before the regulations take effect.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi