On June 18th, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted 3-2 to move forward on Chairman Tom Wheeler’s proposed revisions to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) that will attempt to ‘close loopholes’ and give consumers more control over how they are contacted. In what the Commission is calling “one of the most significant FCC consumer protection actions since it established the Do-Not-Call Registry with the FTC in 2003,” the ruling is in response to the more than 20 pending petitions requesting clarification on a number of issues. It will become effective immediately upon publication in the Federal Register.
While the rules have not yet been made available and may not be for several days, we do have an idea of the most important changes that will take place. Let’s take a look:
- Definition of Automated Dialer – In an attempt to keep up with the ‘changes in technology design,’ the ruling expands the definition of automated dialer to include any phone with future capability of becoming an automated dialer.
- Robocall-blocking Technology – Carriers now have the green light to offer consumers ‘robocall-blocking’ tools.
- Revoke Consent – Consumers will have the explicit right to revoke consent to receive prerecorded messages and text messages by any ‘reasonable way,’ including verbal notification.
- Calls to Reassigned Numbers – According to the new rules, if a number has been reassigned, a caller must stop calling the telephone number after one (1) call.
- Limited Exemption for Urgent Circumstances – The FCC will allow very limited and specific exceptions to permit the use of ‘robocalls,’ such as alerts to possible fraud on your credit card or a reminder to refill a prescription.
The proposal was heavily debated by the Commission. Some believe these updates will have a tremendous impact on the reduction of unwanted calls, which remains the top complaint received by the FCC. Meanwhile, others argue these changes will lead to an increase in superfluous lawsuits and harm businesses that actually have good intentions.
While the fallout remains to be seen, businesses have no choice but to adapt their customer communications methods to get compliant with the new rules, once they are known, if they aren’t already.
If all of this makes your head spin, you’re not alone. The first step you can take is to audit your current compliance practices and procedures. Engage a third-party compliance expert, if needed, so calling policies have all of these regulations in mind.
The bottom line is that these regulations are tougher than ever, and ensuring compliance will only improve your overall business performance. Negligence in this regard can ruin your brand and credibility among customers present and future and also make you susceptible to enormous fines.
Instilling a culture of compliance in your organization from the top down will keep your company on the right track.
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