Over the last several months, telemarketers have confronted a new reality that forces them to understand the implications of declarations of public health and other emergencies issued by local, state, and federal governmental agencies.  Various jurisdictions have telemarketing restrictions that are triggered upon such declarations, making recent months and the foreseeable future a particularly tricky time to operate a telemarketing business.

What is an example of emergency-related telemarketing restrictions?

Louisiana provides a concrete recent example of a state whose telemarketing rules of the road changed with the issuance of an emergency declaration.  In advance of the anticipated landfall of a recent hurricane, Governor John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency.  That declaration had the effect of activating a statutory prohibition against all telemarketing in the State, with certain exceptions.  For example, some exceptions from the broad telemarketing ban are for calls made: (1) to collect a debt; (2) by approved non-profit organizations; or (3) to conduct market research.  Likewise, calls made to recipients who have expressly requested to be contacted, or with whom a business has a preexisting or prior business relationship, can also be placed, with one big caveat – the consent must have been provided within the last six months and the prior business relationship must not have been terminated more than six months before the subject call is made. 

Keeping Compliant with Emergency-Induced Telemarketing Restrictions

It is important that telemarketers work with experienced marketing attorneys to guide them through state and federal laws in order to avoid regulatory trouble. Even under ordinary business conditions, telemarketing law can be complicated and vary dramatically between jurisdictions.  These are not times of ordinary business conditions, however.  Declared public health and states of emergency have become commonplace and may continue for some time.  As a result, it is recommended to avoid placing telemarketing calls in certain jurisdictions unless you offer crucial products or services and have consulted with knowledgeable counsel concerning compliance with applicable law and regulations.