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.
The Federal Do Not Call Act of 2003 marked the creation of the National Do Not Call Registry. Telemarketers and businesses have to follow the rules when they are calling potential customers. The protection of consumers against unwanted telemarketing calls is the top priority of the entities that oversee the registry. Individuals can file a Do Not Call Complaint when an organization violates the principles of the registry.
What Is A Do Not Call Complaint?
When individuals feel a violation of their consumer rights has occurred, they can file a complaint with the relevant federal entities. The government will check the case and decide whether there is a case of violation. The law hands out fines ranging from $500 to over $40,000 to businesses and telemarketers that make illegal calls. For a complaint to go through, the following information is needed:
- Confirmation that the owner of the telephone number, or cell phone number, has been in the National Do Not Call Registry for 31 days, at least.
- A description of the unwanted telemarketing call – did they talk to a real person, was it a robocall or a recorded message?
- The name of the company or telemarketer that supposedly broke the call law.
An inquiry determines whether or not a violation happened and takes it from there. You can rest assured that the federal organizations responsible for the Do Not Call list take consumer protection seriously. They won’t hesitate to go to phone companies for records when they are investigating possible violators.
That’s why you are right to wonder how you could better protect your potential customers from unwanted telemarketing calls. It’s much better to do that yourself than to suffer the government’s involvement. We at TCPA Protect can help you give your clients security and satisfaction.
Who’s In Charge Of DNC Complaints?
There are three institutions that are in charge of dealing with consumer complaints. These are the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and the attorney general. Both the FTC and the FCC are the first line of defense for citizens against unwanted telemarketing calls and scammers. The enforcement of the Federal Do Not Call Act of 2003 is their responsibility. They have teams in every state, investigating and making decisions according to the federal as well as the specific state law.
How Do You File A Grievance?
There is a complaint form on the www.donotcall.gov website people can use. In addition to the donotcall.gov site, one can directly contact the FCC or FTC to describe their case. The process of filing a complaint is simple enough and takes just several minutes. Consumers receive a confirmation that their complaint has reached its destination. The investigation team will get back to them if they need further information, and they will also inform consumers about the outcome of the case.
For various reasons, people sometimes prefer to skip dealing with government bodies when it comes to stopping unwanted calls on their landlines or cell phone numbers. They directly present their case to a small claims court. While they are free to do so, the process is often costly and takes more time. The best course of action remains with going through the FCC or FTC.
What Are The Consequences Of A Do Not Call Complaint?
The investigators of a Do Not Call List complaint check three things first.
- If the number has been on the list for less than 31 days
- Is there a pre-existing business relationship between the business and the owner of the number
- Did the party that filed the complaint give the telemarketer or business written permission to receive calls from them
If the answer to all questions is no, then there is a violation. Violators are subject to fines that go as high as over $40,000. Every unwanted telemarketing call counts as a single violation. If the offense has been big enough, a business license suspension and more severe penalties might be in order.
What Comes Next?
If the FTC has received a complaint against your business, regarding the National Do Not Call Registry, you can do little more than to assist the investigation. The best solution to a do not call list complaint is prevention.
Make sure that your customers have protection against unwanted telephone calls from the telemarketers that work for you. There are several things to do in that regard which should be sufficient to guarantee yours and your customers’ peace of mind.
Check If You Are An Exempt Organization
Even people with valid registration in the Do Not Call List may still receive unsolicited phone calls under certain conditions. For instance, there are several types of organizations that can call DNC telephone numbers. You and the people you reach out to are safe if your organization is a:
- A charitable Organization or other Non-Profit Entity
- Political Organizations
- Debt Collector
- A Conductor of Surveys and Polls
According to the latest edition of the National DNC Act, such organizations are exempt from the responsibility to comply with the registry. If you aren’t sure whether your operation falls into one of the categories above, call the Federal Trade Commission to ask. It’s always better to check things first than to face unforeseen consequences from unintended telephone solicitation.
Note that even non-profit organizations need to follow the rules and regulations. For example, calls to home phones and mobile phone numbers can happen only during standard business hours. Debt collectors may not harass consumers. Political campaigns should never ask for personal information or voting preferences. It’s important to remember that when you’re calling people who don’t expect to hear from you, you should follow all ethical guidelines. Otherwise, you risk offending your consumers and receiving harsh penalties in the process.
When Commercial Companies May Call Numbers On The Do Not Call List
There are certain cases when companies and telemarketers have the permission to dial numbers on the DNC List. Calls are okay as long as there is no sales pitch in them. For example:
- If you are a travel agent and you need to inform the owner of a number in the DNC registry about a change of flights or hotel reservations, you can call them.
- If a service you provide is about to expire, you can inform the owner of a DNC number about it. Just make sure that you don’t try to sign them up for a new plan, service, or product, as this constitutes a sales call. The FTC doesn’t take lightly to hidden marketing strategies.
- If you are surveying consumer satisfaction, you can still call numbers that are in the Do Not Call Registry.
Make sure your telemarketers comply with these rules. Third-party companies that violate the regulations on your behalf will receive a fine, but so will your business.
Other Cases That Apply
You may have permission to call the numbers of people you have a prior business relationship with too. To contact a landline or cell phone on the list for the first time, you need the expressive written request of the owner to do so. There is a third case in which you don’t have to worry about compromising your potential consumers’ protection. It’s when the numbers you call haven’t been on the Do Not Call List for longer than 31 days.
The Way To Protect Your Customers
The best way to guarantee your customers are happy with the telemarketing calls they receive from you is to follow the Do Not Call List guidelines. Companies that conduct business over the phone should, according to the law, have a registration on the donotcall.gov website. You should know in advance which area codes you will be calling and subscribe to the list that caters to them. Registration on www.donotcall.gov is free for companies and telemarketers. So are the set of telephone numbers in the first five area codes you need. A subscription fee applies for every additional area. You can either purchase the do not call lists for specific areas or the entire United States. It comes down to the scope of your operation.
Note that federal law dictates you update your database every 31 days. That’s the reason you don’t face penalties for calling numbers that have been on the list less than a month.
Comparing your company’s call-sheet and the millions of numbers in the registry is a tedious task. It takes a lot of time and resources. Human error isn’t unlikely when you appoint your employees to do the job. Mistakes happen, and they lower customer satisfaction. If you want to avoid such unpleasant developments, you can look into alternative solutions.
Do Not Call List Cleaning
There are specialized services that automate the process of matching the numbers telemarketers call and the DNC list and removing the matches. The name of the process is cleaning. It’s becoming more and more popular, as telemarketing campaign numbers soar. The reasons for that are simple:
- Cleaning removes the possibility of human error
- Cleaning takes a lot less time
- Delegating the process to a third-party contractor saves money
- The updates of your database happen automatically every month
TCPA Protect offers one of the best software solutions currently in use on the US market. Our cleaner has precise algorithms and outstanding technical support.
Do Not Call List complaints are a serious subject. Both consumers and the FTC approach them as such. If you want to run a smooth, efficient telemarketing campaign, you need to do the same. Guarantee the protection of your consumers against unsolicited telemarketing calls. It’s easy, and if you have any questions, we will happily help you out. You can call us at any time – our numbers aren’t on any DNC list.