A lot goes into running a successful, high-performing call center. But to make sure that growth is not only attainable but sustainable, managers can’t take their eyes off developing lead gen compliance issues. After all, anyone who’s been in the industry long enough knows that rules and regulations can change at the drop of a hat, causing seismic shifts in the way businesses operate.
To help sift through the noise and help contact center managers find out what they really need to know about lead gen and TCPA compliance in 2022, Convoso’s Nima Hakimi sat down with expert Michele Shuster, Partner at Mac Murray & Shuster, in a recent webinar.
During their hour-long chat, they covered the latest TCPA updates and news, including:
- Potential upcoming changes to Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR)
- Florida and Oklahoma’s so-called mini-TCPA Laws
- New state privacy laws and what they mean for call centers
- The most recent developments in text messaging compliance and STIR/SHAKEN
Catch the full webinar video or just read the need-to-know highlights in the recap below.
TCPA News: What’s Next from the FTC
In terms of getting the most up-to-date TCPA news, the timing of the webinar couldn’t have been better, according to Shuster. Just before kicking off the webinar, she had been attending the Federal Trade Commission’s latest open meeting, where she caught wind of some upcoming changes:
- The FTC announced a potential change to regulations for B2B calls. Currently, the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR), which regulates interstate telephone calls, does not pertain to most B2B calls. However, according to Shuster, the FTC claims they would now like to include B2B sales within the TSR’s prohibition against “deceptive calls.” If this change were to take effect, B2B callers would need to possess information that substantiates any marketing claims made on a given call. Additionally, these changes may enable businesses to add their numbers to the national Do Not Call (DNC) Registry.
- The FTC is seeking input on potential rules related to call center record-keeping and cancellation requirements. Regulators also announced “advanced notice proposed rulemaking” for a few different items, meaning that they are asking the public for input on potential upcoming changes. Items that the FTC is considering addressing with future changes include increased record-keeping requirements for pre-recorded messages and B2B calls, as well as mandating easier cancellation requirements for certain campaigns.
While none of these changes are sure to go into effect, both Shuster and Convoso will be keeping watch for any official action that affects how call centers need to operate.
FCC Action: The Latest TCPA Compliance News
The FCC continues to be active in issuing cease and desist letters to any voice providers that are not following rules. “We see about a dozen or two dozen of these letters that have been released each month for about the last six or so months,” says Shuster.
“Basically, these letters are the death knells for any company trying to make telephone calls.” Generally, these aggressive actions are initiated by complaints made by the Industry Traceback Group (ITG), a consortium of telecoms carriers attempting to fight illegal robocalls. Of course, there is a 48-hour window for legitimate actors to respond to any complaints filed.
“[To protect your business,] you want to make sure that your voice services provider has a process in place for handling those,” says Hakimi. “The last thing you want to happen is that they receive a request and either ignore it or don’t know how to handle it. [Convoso has received] them in the past, and all that we do is provide information that shows our customer is compliant, along with information on how they’re doing that, and it’s been fine.”
Additional updates from the FCC that Hakimi and Shuster discussed include:
- The FCC’s Chairwoman Rosenworcel proposed rules targeting illegal international calls. The rules, which will be considered at the FCC’s May meeting, would require international gateway providers to comply with existing robocall mitigation regulations.
- The FCC is bringing on more state attorneys general as part of a multi-state effort to combat robocalls. For Shuster, this act is likely a sign of things to come. “I think we’re going to see a significant, multi-state regulatory action that’s initiated before the end of the year,” she says. “So, if you are a company—or if you’re working with a company by providing them leads—that’s getting requests for information in the form of a civil investigative demand or a subpoena from a state AG, you really need to take those seriously. Because you don’t want to be one of those companies that gets caught up in this multi-state action.”
“The message here is to be proactive about having legal counsel. Just because you haven’t had an issue today doesn’t mean you won’t tomorrow. The last thing you want to do is get one of those requests and not know what to do with it.”
A Mini-TCPA Law in Florida—and Now Oklahoma
In 2021, Florida enacted a so-called “mini-TCPA” law that is continuing to cause headaches for call centers who are not on top of their compliance efforts. The central issue? The law contains ambiguous language about the prohibition of an “automated system for the selection or dialing” of phone numbers.
“The problem with this definition,” says Shuster, “is none of us in the industry really know [exactly what this means.] Does that mean if you have a list, and you have artificial intelligence or some type of algorithm that’s…going to order that list [based on optimal call times] and therefore that system has selected what phone numbers would be called and in what order—then is that an ‘automatic system for the selection or dialing of telephone numbers?’”
This uncertainty, combined with the laws’ allowing for a private right of action, has led to a huge increase in lawsuits filed this year. Now, on the heels of the Florida law, Oklahoma is on the verge of passing its own bill that contains similar language. A bill recently passed the Oklahoma Senate unanimously and is expected to be passed by the House before being signed into law. Call centers who do business in Oklahoma should seek counsel to ensure that they implement the right TCPA best practices.
New State Privacy Laws: What Do They Mean for Call Centers?
To date, four states have passed their own sweeping privacy laws—California, Colorado, Virginia, and Utah. With so much information in these bills, it can be difficult to know what steps a contact center needs to take. Luckily, Michelle Shuster broke it down:
“What you’ve got to make sure that you’re able to do with these privacy laws is to understand what kind of data you’re collecting, including whether it is the type of data or consumer information that is protected [by these laws]. Most of these laws also require that you provide a right to deletion of that information.”
Meanwhile, businesses that utilize vendors who make calls on their behalf need to ensure that vendors also have the ability to process any do-not-track or do-not-store-information requests from customers. “There are also provisions for data brokers. If you’re a data broker and you are collecting a certain amount of information, there are requirements for you to have those same types of abilities to delete consumer information.”
To go along with privacy compliance, Shuster underscored the importance of data security in the lead gen space. Not only are data breaches harmful to reputations and expensive to recover from, but state privacy laws also require that you have a proven data security plan in place before you begin collecting information.
Other New Privacy Laws and Regulations for Telemarketing in 2022
In addition to these major privacy laws, two noteworthy bills call centers will need to account for have already been passed this year:
- In Utah, regulators passed a bill that classifies calls to purchase real estate as a “solicitation.” This means that these calls are subject to telemarketing call rules and require consent or a DNC exemption.
- In Washington, individuals can now request that telephone solicitors remove any contact information—not just phone numbers—from their call lists.
Updates on Text Message Regulations and STIR/SHAKEN
Wrapping up the webinar, the hosts touched on two last hot-ticket items in lead gen compliance, texts and STIR/SHAKEN.
On Texting: While text messages are considered the equivalent of a phone call under the TCPA, Shuster says it’s mostly carriers who have been regulating the text messaging channel. Both Shuster and Hakimi emphasized the importance of partnering with a provider that supports Campaign Registry usage to ensure deliverability.
On STIR/SHAKEN: “Basically, the carriers are in the process of rolling it out,” says Shuster. “You have to make sure that when you’re working with a service provider that they’re able to get you an A-level attestation. You’re going to be asked to provide information prior to starting those campaigns because the service providers are required to get it, they’re required to have a robocall mitigation plan in place, and they’re required to follow those.”
“The bigger picture here,” says Hakimi, “is that you want to make sure whatever dialer you’re using, that they have a ‘Know Your Customer’ (KYC) process in place. It’s really to make sure that your calls go through. What we’ve seen is a lot of companies using open source dialer VICIdial, that software is typically operated by random businesses and individuals that may not have a process in place for that. Whomever you’re using your service with, ask them what they’re doing to make sure your calls are getting signed.”
As ever, the lead gen compliance space is packed full of updates. For more information on how to support compliance at your call center, watch the webinar in full and stay tuned to Convoso’s contact center blog.