Business messaging is an important tool that every organization utilizes in communicating with their customers. However, collecting the phone number of an individual, whether it is a prospective customer or an existing customer, does not imply that you have permission to call or text them. You need to get legal consent to send a promotional or marketing text message to a contact.
TCPA is one of the major things to look out for when trying to reach out to your customers. So, what is TCPA and what does this mean for your organization?
What is TCPA?
TCPA refers to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act which was signed into law in 1991. The aim of this federal legislation is to protect customers from unwanted calls from telemarketers, auto-dialed or prerecorded calls, text messages, and fax transmissions. You can find more information about it here:
The Federal Communications Council (FCC), which is an independent agency in the United States is responsible for implementing and enforcing the TCPA.
What are the Requirements of the TCPA?
The main requirements of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) are:
- Do not contact anyone who is listed in the national do not call registry.
- Do not call residences after 9 p.m. or before 8 a.m. in the time zone of those residences.
- Do not send machine recordings or voice calls to people without getting written consent from them.
- Do not engage the use of stimulated voices, recordings, or auto-dialers to call mobile phones or recipients who pay for the calls they receive.
- Do not use an automatic telephone dialing system (ATDS) to make calls to:
i) the emergency telephone line of a medical physician, healthcare facility, law enforcement agency, fire protection agency, or poison control center,
ii) the telephone line of a guest room or patient ward in a hospital, elderly home, or related establishment; or
iii) the telephone line of special mobile radio service, cellular telephone service, paging service, or other radio carrier services.
You can check out this website to get more information about the rules and regulations of the TCPA.
Exemptions from TCPA
The exemptions from the TCPA are as follows:
- Calls that are dialed manually or do not have pre-recorded messages
- Calls that are made during emergencies
- Calls that are not for any commercial purpose
- Calls that are meant to deliver a pre-recorded healthcare report made by a business in accordance with the privacy rule of the HIPAA
- Calls that are made by a tax-exempt non-profit organization
- Calls that are made for commercial purposes which are not advertising or telemarketing
Why It Is Important for Your Business to be TCPA Compliant
When you do not get prior consent from customers before reaching out to them as directed by the TCPA, you may have some serious legal issues. The customers can file a lawsuit against your business and its telemarketers. This can amount to fines starting at $500 and up to $1,500 for each text message that you sent.
Additionally, your business will suffer negative reviews from customers when you do not respect their privacy. This is not what you need for your business, right?
How to Ensure Your Business Is TCPA Compliant
The first step you need to take to ensure TCPA compliance is to get prior written consent from your customers before calling or messaging them. It is not enough to have their phone numbers; you need to seek permission from them, and this is non-negotiable.
Additionally, when getting their consent, you need to give them the full details of what the permission entails. This will encourage transparency between you and your customers, thereby reducing the chances of breaches.
Subsequently, you need to ensure that your customers can easily opt-out of receiving further communication from your business. Hence, if a customer chooses to opt-out and marks you on their list of “do not contact,” you need to cease all forms of communication with their number.
As much as it is important to communicate with your customers, it is also good to do it the right way. You need to ensure that your business or its telemarketing service provider is TCPA compliant. That way, you will not need to worry about violating the law.