As seen in BillingTree’s 2016 Collection Agency Operations and Technology Survey, one of the concerns of collection agencies is compliance with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) regulations when implementing new technology to move their businesses forward. Compliance is a critical issue and the agencies have good reason to be concerned because it impacts those who make outbound phone calls to consumers.
The TCPA was passed into law in the early 1990s as a measure to restrict certain types of telephone solicitations. Any company contacting an individual, unless they have received prior express consent, must abide by a set of guidelines in order to maintain TCPA compliance. Some of these guidelines are as follows:
- Residences cannot be called before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
- Every company must maintain a DNC list (“do-not-call list”) of those who request not to be called.
- The DNC list must be honored for five years.
- The company must also abide by the national do-not-call list.
- Artificial agent and automated recorded calls are prohibited.
On June 18, 2015 the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruled on 21 long-standing petitions and letters seeking clarifications of the TCPA and passed several new rules that can impact collection agencies that use outbound calling as part of their collection strategies. Several items with the most impact to agencies are:
- Text messages to a consumer are calls.
- Consent must come from the called party, not the intended recipient of the call.
- The FTC will continue to administer the National Do-Not-Call Registry to prevent unwanted telemarketing calls.
- Wireless and home phone subscribers can continue to prevent telemarketing robocalls made without prior written consent.
- Consumers will still have a private right of action for violations of the TCPA along with statutory penalties.
These new rules will significantly restrict a business’s use of autodialing technologies. They can also restrict how your agents contact consumers as consent must come from the called party and can be revoked at anytime. It is therefore important to instruct any internal agents, as well as any vendors you hire, on the TCPA regulations and compliance. Good training now can save thousands of dollars in fines later.
Would you like to stay up-to-date on compliance? Check out BillingTree’s Compliance Central; an online knowledge and resource portal that provides a one-stop resource for timely, insightful news and information specific to payment compliance.