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Stay in Compliance with Scrubbed Call Lists

Ronen Ben-Dror is director of client relationship development at Blue Valley Telemarketing and can be contacted at 847 433-8183 or www.bluevalleytelemarketing.com. (This article originally appeared in Blue Valley's Circulation Ideas Newsletter and is reproduced here with thanks courtesy of Blue Valley.)

An accurate call list is an extremely important aspect in waging a successful telemarketing campaign. Scrubbing the list is the responsibility of the publishing company and the telemarketing agency.

A well-scrubbed list will also weed out the business users relying on mobile phones for communication who have not provided expressed consent for contact through this method, thus keeping the publisher and the telemarketer in compliance with current regulations and industry guidelines.

 Business professionals are increasingly relying on their mobile devices to stay in touch, creating a new avenue for connectivity between marketers and professionals. With the arrival of the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend, more and more consumers are taking their own devices to work and using them as their primary point of communication. And while the opportunity for connection is very real, so too are the challenges in keeping these numbers separate from approved business numbers a telemarketing firm can call.

With around 4 million complaints being filed last year (mostly by consumers), it appears that consumers and businesses are not getting through to telemarketers that they wish to be left off their call lists. While most DNC laws are applicable in a B2C environment, the latest FCC cell phone and ported numbers regulation (listed below) are very real to us all (in B2B environment) and we should take it very seriously and comply. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) doesn't take these oversights lightly. Large settlements have been doled out for violating laws regarding the no call registry and cell phone numbers. Companies that purchase lead lists from third-party brokers can't assume that the list has been thoroughly scrubbed. Too many companies have fallen victim to oversights like this and pay dearly when they violate the registry law.

Telemarketing professionals cannot stress enough that building a marketing list must be carefully planned. Purchasing call lists is a quick and efficient way to get a campaign rolling. Agencies using these lists have to worry not only about the national registry, but also state registries. Purchasing lists should be carried out through reputable providers. What companies need to remember is that regardless of whether they make the call or a telemarketing agency does it on their behalf, the company is liable for violations of the do not call registry law.

Jumping into a campaign shouldn't include a leap of faith that the call list is thoroughly scrubbed. Professional associations, like Blue Valley Telemarketing, are built around professional industry standards that seek to comply fully with federal and state laws. But regardless of how professional the telemarketing agency is, publishers still have a responsibility to ensure for themselves that the leads they provide the telemarketer are well scrubbed.

Telemarketers need to also be aware of recent FTC amendments to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). One important change that took effect October 16 relates to prior express written consent, which is required for telemarketers making calls to mobile numbers or using automatic dialing systems. Also, prerecorded messages sent to mobile numbers also require written consent under the new amendment. The agreement between the telemarketer and the client must include a "clear and conspicuous disclosure."

As of now, businesses have a couple of options for making telemarketing calls. They can make the calls that do not use automated dialing systems; or they can secure express written consent prior to making calls. Violating the TCPA garners hefty fines - $16,000 per call. Private lawsuits, including class action suits, can cost telemarketers in violation up to $1,500 per call.

To ensure you've covered the basics in your telemarketing campaign and scrubbing efforts, we've provided the law in its exact wording here.

Amended FCC Regulations Became Effective in October
Last year, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted significant amendments to its Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) regulations. The last, and most significant, changes adopted by the FCC are set to take effect on October 16, 2013.

Under the amended regulations, "prior express written consent" is required for: (1) telemarketing calls placed to cellular telephone numbers using an automatic telephone dialing system (ATDS); and/or (2) prerecorded telemarketing messages sent to cellular or residential telephone numbers. To obtain sufficient written consent, the following criteria must be met:

• Must be an agreement in writing bearing the signature of the person providing consent (pursuant to the E-SIGN Act, an electronic signature is sufficient);

• The agreement must include the telephone numbers to be called;

• The agreement must clearly authorize the seller to call the person using an ATDS or prerecorded message (as applicable) for telemarketing purposes;

• The agreement must include a clear and conspicuous disclosures that: (a) by executing the agreement, the person authorizes the seller to make telemarketing calls to the person using an ATDS or prerecorded message; and (b) that the person is not required to sign the agreement or provide consent as a condition of purchasing any goods or services.

The amended regulations do not change the requirements for non-telemarketing calls made to cell phones using an ATDS and/or prerecorded message.

Effective October 16, 2013, businesses have two options for making telemarketing calls to cell phones in compliance with the TCPA: (1) initiate calls using equipment that does not constitute an ATDS; or (2) obtain the called party's prior express written consent before the call is made. Calls made in violation of the TCPA are subject to civil penalties of up to $16,000 per call and/or private lawsuits (including class actions) to recover up to $1,500 per call. Given these risks, we strongly recommend consulting with your legal counsel prior to initiating any calls to cell phones.

The materials and recommendations contained herein are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. We urge you to discuss your particular situation with your legal counsel before taking any action.