Tired of receiving telemarketing calls and texts on your cell phone? You’re in luck. Earlier this month, a new Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requirement went into effect, mandating that customers must express written consent before they are able to receive any telemarketing calls or SMS messages to their cellular devices if they are made using any form of automatic telephone dialing system (ATDS). The new rule to the Telephone Consumer Protection ACT issued by the FCC went into effect on October 16. BBB
“Prior to the ruling, a business with an existing customer relationship did not have to get additional consent to market products or services to them via ATDS”, said Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB Serving Central East Texas. “Now, from a texting and mobile device point of view, prior written consent is mandatory. The new requirement does not apply to customer service, account management or technical service calls or texts.”
Many companies have sent notifications to current subscribers, however, if subscribers do not reply, they will be unable to receive any more special deals or coupons via mobile device without re-subscribing. Consent may not be implied or buried in privacy documents or terms and conditions of a Web site – they must be clear and conspicuous and meet the following requirements:
- beobtained in a written agreement, which includes a signature (E-signature is sufficient)
- be specifically indicate the seller to whom consent is being provided
- include the consumer’s cellular number
- clearly authorize the seller to call or text using an ATDS
The capture of the consent can be obtained via a variety of media such as:
- Physical forms such as customer agreements/contracts, order forms or business reply cards, Online forms with e-signatures.
- Companies may use replies from customers via email or retrieve consent via webpage confirmation
- They may also retrieve recorded consent via telephone with new customers.
Damages will range from $500 to $1500 per violation, so as direct marketers of goods and services consider their options in moving forward with telephone solicitations, there are several key factors that are critical from a do not call compliance perspective under the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) and the FCC’s rules under the telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) rules. In order to ensure compliance, BBB reminds business owners of the following best practices:
- Develop, implement, and follow a written Do Not Call Policy
- Train personnel in personnel in procedures established
- Scrub calling list against the registry as well as any state lists that remain
- Become knowledgeable about the parameters for relying on the existing business relationship exemption, in general, and more specifically, for affiliates
- Ensure compliance with compliance with company-specific internal do not call obligations
- Keep accurate and detailed records of compliance, and maintain records for at least five years from the last date consent was received.
- Appoint a specific person to be a “Chief Telemarketing Officer”
BBB reminds consumers to forward any unsolicited marketing texts to 7726 (spam). For more information on how to be a savvy consumer or business go to www.bbb.org. To report fraud or unscrupulous business practices, call the BBB Hotline: (903) 581-8373.