Disclaimer: This blog is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice and does not create or intend to create an attorney-client relationship. This blog post should never be used to replace the advice of your personal attorney.

TCPA stands for the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. It was a Bill of Congress that President George Bush signed into law in 1991. The purpose of TCPA compliance is to regulate how telemarketing companies may contact consumers, the use of automatic telephone dialing systems (ATDS), and others. Since its inception, the TCPA has gone through several transformations. These reflect changes in technology, consumer behavior, and telemarketing strategies. The Act contains passages, which deal with faxes, robocalls, text messages, and so on.

If you want to protect your consumers against annoying unsolicited calls and run your advertising campaign smoothly, you need to know the TCPA inside and out. Both the federal government and consumers take TCPA compliance seriously, and so should you.

What’s TCPA Compliance?

The definition of TCPA compliance is simple on the surface. Companies and the telemarketers making telephone solicitations on their behalf should comply with the call rules of the TCPA as they stand in the current version of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Achieving TCPA compliance is not as easy as it may sound. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) make sure businesses and telemarketers follow the rules. Certain state entities, such as the local attorney general’s offices, deal with consumer complaints too.

Let’s say it’s your first time running a telemarketing campaign. You need to read the text of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991. Don’t forget its later amendments as well. If you have trouble understanding how to tailor your campaign to the rules, don’t hesitate to seek knowledgeable legal counsel. Alternatively, you can consult the Federal Communications Commission website. They have a thorough FAQ section there for businesses and their relation to the TCPA. However, the first option is expensive, while the second one comes with the risk of still misunderstanding something. The most cost-effective and fool-proof way to guarantee TCPA compliance is to rely on TCPA Protect. Our services and know-how will assist you in the essential task of protecting your consumers.

How Can Your Company Comply With TCPA?

First and foremost, you need to know what TCPA compliance doesn’t allow and what they require from you. Prohibitions in the text of the Act include the following:

  • Autodialed calls on lines of a multi-line business, when they engage two or more lines
  • Automated telephone messages to private residences
  • Unsolicited faxes with advertising purposes
  • Calling residences outside standard business hours – 8 am to 9 pm, Monday to Friday, local time
  • Artificial or prerecorded messages to emergency lines such as 9-1-1, as well as such made via automated telephone equipment

As far as requirements go, the TCPA has further prescriptions that you need to follow to ensure compliance:

  • All callers should provide their identifying information via caller id, including name, telephone number, and physical address. When a third-party telemarketer works for a business, they should give the called party the same info along with that of their employer.
  • Telephone solicitations need to abide by the rules of the National Do Not Call Registry.
  • Telemarketers and businesses need to create, and honor company-specific Do Not Call lists.

Be aware of the fact that if you hire a telemarketer that doesn’t honor the principles of the TCPA, you will be liable for their violations too. In case of an unintentional violation of the TCPA, a consumer may seek damages of up to $500 per call. If they can prove you deliberately broke the law, the fine for a single violation may reach up to $1500.

The Three Main Aspects Of TCPA Compliance

Let’s say you are tailoring your marketing campaign to coincide with the guiding principles of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. Remember that the law covers three distinct categories in which telemarketers deal. Depending on your advertising plan’s scope and nature, you may have to comply with one, two, or all three of them to guarantee you operate within the boundaries of the TCPA compliance. The categories you need to have all the information about are robocalls, the provisions about text messages and the Federal Do Not Call List.

Robocalls

TCPA Compliance

The term robocall describes a telephone call that utilizes automated telephone machines and autodialers/predictive dialers. The voice the called party hears resembles that of a robot. Robocalls often come in association with political campaigns and telemarketing. Often they are also helpful public service announcements such as emergency notifications. There are instances when prerecorded messages mimic personal phone calls, but they still fall into the category of robocalls. The original TCPA of 1991 dealt extensively with robocalls by imposing certain restrictions. The most recent addition to the legislation dealing with robocalls in the United States gained Congress’s approval in 2019.

According to TCPA compliance, prerecorded telemarketing calls should contain identification of the calling party and contact information. Even when that happens, there are many restrictions on who may or may not use the technology. Commercial calls, for example, aren’t exempt from the ban of robocalls under TCPA compliance rules. Debt collectors had permission for some time to use prerecorded messages. The Supreme Court, however, overruled that exception in Barr v. American Assn. of Political Consultants, Inc. (19-631) just this year. Some tax-exempt organizations, unions, individual citizens, and political parties may still utilize robocalls’ capabilities for their purposes. However, the TCPA doesn’t allow them to make robocalls to cell phone numbers unless written consent is present. The FCC allows automated telephone messages to landlines.

State-Specific Robocall Rules

In California, a company needs an established business relationship with the called party to use robocalls. The recording must not start before the consumer consents to hearing it and should disconnect when they hang up. In Indiana, a live operator should contact the recipient and inform them about the prerecorded message. Only after their consent can the recording start. South Carolina has a complicated history with robocalls. The state prohibits most unsolicited calls, no matter whether commercial or political. The last time those restrictions got challenged was in Cahary v. LaRosa. The US District Court ruled against the challenge. The explanation was that the blocking of robocalls in South Carolina was consent-based, thus doesn’t represent a restriction on political free speech.

Text Messages And TCPA

Telemarketers need specific consent from consumers to send them SMS messages and other forms of text messages to their mobile phones. There are also a couple of tricky moments when it comes to obtaining the numbers that you send SMS to at any given moment. Having the number doesn’t equate to having permission. You may prepare your call sheet based on potential leads, from a partner network, or even have an established business relationship with the owner. You won’t be violating the Federal Communication Commission’s rules by calling these numbers. That’s, as long as they aren’t in the DNC registry. However, you need to ask the owners for their permission to send them a text.

The National Do Not Call list

The federal government created the National Do Not Call Registry to enforce the guiding principles of the TCPA compliance. Since 2003, the DNC list has proven to provide efficient protection against unwanted telephone calls for consumers. The way the registry works for consumers is straightforward. A person who doesn’t want to hear from telemarketers makes a registration on donotcall.gov. Companies have to check their business-specific call lists against the registry once a month. They don’t have permission to call matching numbers.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and the attorney general’s office look after the National Do Not Call Registry. Violations cost companies more than other offenses concerning the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. Fines start from $500, and with a class-action lawsuit, they can reach as high as $40,000 and more. That’s per each violation.

Compliance With The DNC Registry

The DNC registry is an integral part of TCPA compliance. The reason is simple. Companies need to dedicate lots of resources to check the list regularly. Moreover, if the advertising campaign covers many area codes, subscription to the registry might be costly. A simple solution to the problem with resources is to delegate the responsibility to third party contractors.

The so-called cleaners are automated software solutions that do the job of entire marketing departments. Cleaning also eliminates the possibility of costly human error. As you may guess, the FCC doesn’t care if you violated the Do Not Call rules on purpose or due to a mistake. If you want the best for your consumers and your business by extension, you need to look into the DNC cleaning options. TCPA Protect will gladly offer you our solution, which is affordable and highly recommended by thousands of past consumers – businesses and telemarketers alike.

Exceptions To The TCPA Compliance And DNC List

The Federal Do Not Call List, and the TCPA as a whole don’t protect consumers from all types of unsolicited communication. People with registrations on donotcall.gov may still hear from various entities in cases such as:

  • When a company or telemarketer doesn’t have a sales pitch for them, but rather some piece of information. Notices about the rescheduling of delivery of service, status reports, and such are allowed. 
  • Political campaigns may call for surveys and polls.
  • Surveyors and debt collection services still call numbers on the DNC List. 
  • Nonprofit organizations looking for charitable donations need not comply with the DNC registry either.

There are even instances when telemarketers may call with the explicit purpose of selling a product or service. That’s when there is an established business relationship with the owner of the number exists. The latter might have given written permission to receive calls too. As businesses must check the DNC registry once a month, consumers may still receive a call if a number has been there less than 31 days.

Telemarketers Aren’t The Only Ones Bound By TCPA Compliance 

Some states have precise rules concerning contacting citizens without prior express consent. The Federal Communications Commission doesn’t take harassing calls, junk fax, robocalls, and texting of messages lightly. It doesn’t matter who the caller is. Political campaigns, debt collectors, and even charities that violate the TCPA rules will receive fines. While telemarketers need to consider a slightly different set of rules, TCPA compliance is mandatory for everybody.

In Conclusion

If you want to make sure that your business does its best to follow the rules of the TCPA, you can always call us. The experts at TCPA Protect will make sure that your consumers’ interests are taken care of. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act is here to guarantee your business runs smoothly and your customers receive a satisfactory service from you. It’s only logical to follow its guidelines.