Caveat: Make Your Outsourcers Aware of Federal Regulations

Caveat: Make Your Outsourcers Aware of Federal Regulations

September 02, 2015

The TCPA was enacted in 1991 but has received a lot of attention lately because of recent Federal Communications Commission actions that heighten its powers.

A recent blog post from Cindy Williams at The WORKS discusses these changes at length. She notes the altered definition of the “autodialer,” new rules governing the reassignment of telephone numbers, consumer consent and revocation, updated rules for text messages, and exceptions to all the above in the case of emergencies.

First, the definition of what constitutes an “autodialer” has moved from devices which currently have automatic dialing capabilities to any device that could, in the future, have such capabilities. Any smart mobile device or application could fall under this vague description. As TMC (NewsAlert) noted in a past review, this means that litigation could react to any such devices/applications and argue that businesses have used them improperly. It places a heavy burden on businesses to closely watch their actions — no matter the originating hardware or software.

Reassignment of numbers has also taken on new facets. If a phone number has moved from one consumer on a calling list to a separate consumer, businesses have only one chance to contact such individuals before they must remove said consumers from their lists. Williams points out that businesses could get in trouble for violating this condition even when they did not intend to violate it. If a consumer does not make the business aware of reassignment, litigation could come to the offending business for its actions even in the face of ignorance.

Consumers are also now required to provide express written consent that they wish to receive live calls, recorded calls, or text messages. They can also revoke their consent by any “reasonable means” such as written or verbal declarations.

Finally, businesses get some reprieve with one-time text messages. If consumers provide consent, businesses may send them specific information consumers have agreed to. In addition, businesses may have some leeway when sending “emergency” calls or texts such as fraud alerts. But consumers will still have the power to verbally opt out of these emergency communications.

These updates are meant to protect consumers, but they can restrict the actions of businesses in ways that could cause them undue hardship. Therefore, opponents have been vocal about what this could mean for any business with a dedicated call center. Nearly every industry will feel the hit of these regulations, but since they have only been around for a few months, their real impact may not be clear for some time.

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