Friends in the telemarketing industry! Our law firm created TelemarketingCompliance.com nearly 10 years ago to provide free information to call centers, sellers, lead generators and dialer vendors about national and state telemarketing compliance. Whether calling or texting, telemarketers must comply with certain restrictions in order to avoid fines and lawsuits. Understanding telemarketing rules will help your brand mitigate risk. Ignoring telemarketing compliance will subject your business to significant legal and financial problems. Even if you don't telemarket directly, if you hire telemarketers or service this industry, you need to be aware of the regulations. Companies large and small have been held liable for the mistakes of their telemarketing vendors and clients. TCPA and similar litigation are on the rise.
Telemarketing compliance involves numerous state and federal rules, as well as time-proven best practices to reduce risk. Understanding telemarketing compliance and investing in compliance infrastructure now will help you and your partners sleep easy. Be the hero at your company by unlocking a safe environment in which to call and text your customers and prospects. Welcome to the web's free home for telemarketing compliance resources.
Use the "STATE COMPLIANCE" drop-down menu at the top of this page to find the state you are looking for, or explore the national/federal rules below.
No national/federal telemarketing license is required. However, most telemarketers are required to obtain a SAN (subscription account number) from the FTC and then pay for all of the area codes they want to call into in order to access the Do-Not-Call (DNC) database. Click to learn more about Do-Not-Call list law and telemarketing licenses.
Federal law limits marketing calls to between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. in the call recipient's local time zone.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) maintains a database of telephone numbers from individuals who have elected not to receive unsolicited telemarketing calls. Most adult American's have placed their numbers on this list. It is generally illegal to telemarket to numbers on the DNC list without consent or an established business relationship. Various exemptions exist that you should explore with your compliance counsel. The DNC list is governed by FTC and FCC regulations. Many states also incorporate the federal Do Not Call law lists into their own local telemarketing laws. Meaning, it violates certain state laws if you call numbers on the national DNC. Learn more about DNC list exemptions.
Mandatory initial oral phone disclosures: (1) name of caller and business; (2) that purpose of call is to sell; (3) nature of goods/services offered; (4) real telephone number or address. Before taking payment: (5) total cost and quantity; (6) material (important) restrictions/conditions; (7) refund/cancel rights, or lack thereof. Additional disclosures exist for special offers such as prize promotions. States have their own required disclosures, such as that a call is recorded, for example. Learn more about telemarketer scripting rules.
$43,792 per violation to the FTC. $51,827 per violation to the FCC. Plus up to $1,500 per violation to the consumer in a private TCPA lawsuit. Scary! Most threatening is the possibility of a TCPA class action lawsuit. Click to learn more about telemarketing fines.
A single TCPA plaintiff can file a class action seeking damages for everyone a company illegally contacted in the previous 4 years. Some class actions are settled inexpensively, but many settle for multiple millions of dollars. If you are served with a TCPA class action lawsuit, or a threat to sue, contact your legal counsel immediately. most TCPA class actions can be successfully resolved if handled with care. TCPA class actions have been on the rise for years now. Read some hacks for defending a TCPA class action lawsuit and about FCC regulations. Click here to learn about the new FCC rules.
Federal autodialer law is somewhat in a state of flux. The TCPA generally prohibits using an autodialer to call or text any cell phone without written consent. The definition of an autodialer is a matter of much debate and grey area. The FCC previously held that calling systems which can dial numbers without human intervention are autodialers, but more recently the US Supreme Court weighed in. In April of 2021, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Facebook's autodialer appeal, holding that to be an autodialer, the system must have the capacity to use a random or sequential number generator. I.e., a dialing platform is only an autodialer if it can either generate or store numbers to be called using a random/sequential number generator. TCPA plaintiffs continue to file autodialer cases, alleging that various dialing platforms are autodialers merely because they have the "capacity" to autodial, even if that functionality is not used. For example, some plaintiffs argue a system is an autodialer if it can dial randomly down an uploaded list. Consult with your telemarketing lawyer to determine if your platform is an autodialer and what can be done to mitigate TCPA risk. Make sure you have a solid legal opinion letter to reassure your partners and scare away potential plaintiffs.
TELEMARKETING COMPLIANCE: Becoming compliant with state and federal telemarketing laws can seem complicated and overwhelming. Being 100% compliant is the best way to avoid telemarketing fines. It is recommended that you consult your telemarketing attorney before starting a telemarketing campaign to ensure you are fully compliant with federal and state telemarketing regulations. A telemarketing attorney can perform a valuable telemarketing compliance audit, in addition to a number of other services. To start your road to compliance, click here.
Approximately 32 states require telemarketers to obtain a telemarketing license before calling into (or from) those states. Telemarketing license requirements vary by state. States such as Florida and Alabama require individual phone agents to obtain individual licensing as well. The forms and fees for these telemarketing registrations also vary by state.
In order to obtain a state's telemarketing license, call centers must go through a registration process and obtain approval. In some cases, an application fee and surety telemarketing bond (see bonds below) must be submitted. These telemarketing license requirements are separate from state DNC lists and state autodialer permits. State telemarketing licenses are also separate from the federal do-not-call law list.
A telemarketing bond is a surety bond which some states require call centers to obtain before they can legally call into those particular states. Normally, the bond is just one part of a state's telemarketing license process. A surety bond is similar to an insurance policy, but is also more complex. The bond acts like an insurance policy with the beneficiary of that policy being the consumers of that particular state. In the event of a violation, a claim may be filed against the bond. If the bonding company confirms the violations, the bonding company will pay out the bond money in order to refund the state's consumers who were harmed by the telemarketer's conduct. So long as the call center does not violate the law, the insurance company which issued the bond will only charge an annual premium to keep the bond in place.
Telemarketing fines are penalties for violating federal or state telemarketing laws. Most states often have telemarketing laws that vary from other states. The best way to avoid fines is to ensure your call center is fully compliant with each state you call into and out of.
Telemarketing Compliance Tips
Many states require telephone solicitors to disclose certain information at the beginning of each call they make to a potential consumer. For example, the State of Ohio requires that within the first 60 seconds telephone solicitors must state the solicitor's or salesperson's true name and the company on whose behalf the solicitation is being made; state that the purpose of the telephone call is to effect a sale; and identify the goods or services being sold. Federal/national telemarketing disclosures are listed here.
Virtually every state prohibits false or misleading statements from being made during a telephone solicitation. Many states also prohibit certain specific statements. For example, some states prohibit rebuttal statements after the consumer indicates that they are not interested. Other states require you to obtain the consumer's permission before presenting the sales message. Prohibited statements vary from state to state. Be sure to know what you can legally say when on the phone with the residents and businesses of the state you are calling.
Many states require telemarketers to provide their consumers with specific cancellation rights. These states also will often require telemarketers to clearly disclose this information to their consumers. For example, Utah telemarketing law requires telemarketers to orally inform purchasers that they have a mandatory right to cancel the purchase up to midnight on the 3rd business day following the transaction.
Another example: Ohio telemarketing law requires telemarketers to provide purchasers with two copies of the following statement:"NOTICE OF CANCELLATION RIGHTS Because you agreed to buy these goods (or services or other appropriate description) as a result of a telephone solicitation, Ohio law gives you seven (7) days to cancel your purchase. If you cancel we must provide you a full refund within thirty (30) days. If you want to cancel, you must sign your name below and return a copy of this notice, together with any goods you have received, so they are postmarked no later than midnight of the seventh day following the date you received the goods or agreed to the services, or the seventh day following the date you received this notice, whichever is later."
DNC or do-not-call law lists are residents that are legally protected from receiving calls from telemarketers. There is a national DNC law list, and some states may even have their own DNC list. Telemarketers should perform their own complaint DNC scrubbing, or should hire an expert third-party DNC scrub vendor to perform the scrubbing for them.
Attorney General Letters & Investigations
When a state attorney general's office receives one or more complaints about a telemarketer, they will often initiate an investigation of the telemarketing entity. Always consult with a telemarketing compliance lawyer when you receive an attorney general letter. Responding to an AG investigation can be complex, especially if there has been a possible violation.
Telemarketing curfews limit the permissible calling window during with the call center may call consumers. Federal telemarketing law prohibits calls outside the hours of 8am and 9pm (the recipient's local time). Some states have even more restrictive rules limiting to certain days of the week, and in some cases include state recognized holidays. Be certain your call center is compliant with all curfew and other telemarketing rules to avoid telemarketing fines and legal action against your business.
Both the federal and many state governments have enacted strict autodialer laws and robocall laws. In particular, many of these rules prohibit the use of autodialers to call cell phones. Under the new FCC rules passed on October 16, 2013, telemarketers may not use an automatic telephone dialing system (ATDS) to call a cell phone without prior express consent.
What is an automatic telephone dialing system? (What is an ATDS?) An automatic telephone dialing system or "ATDS" is a device or software which has the capacity to dial without human intervention. For example, all predictive dialers are ATDS. If your dialing system or CRM has the capacity to dial without human intervention in each individual call, then it is an autodialer/ATDS.
Telemarketing registrations are required by approximately 32 states in the US. The federal government and 12 states also require telemarketers to register to obtain a Do Not Call list. Call centers must obtain telemarketing licenses and telemarketing bonds in the states they call into or from, unless they have a telemarketing exemption.
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Some content on this page was made before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals’ March 2018 Decision, which can be accessed here: http://bit.ly/2HHTfND
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