In October 2013, the Federal Communications Commission amended the Telephone Consumer Protection Act to include regulation of automated telemarketing messages. What do these new rules mean for you?
- If you want to use automated technology or pre-recorded messages to telemarket to cell phones or to send promotional text messages, you now need prior express written consent. This means you have to tell people that you will use automated technology, you must tell them that opting-in is not required to make a purchase, and you must collect their written consent.
- Continuing to use existing lists, compiled under more lax opt-in standards, could expose your company to significant liability. Statutory damages start at $500 per call, there is a private cause of action, and class actions are settling for millions of dollars.
- There are ways to avoid liability. For example, manually dialing cellular phones is allowed under the TCPA, and text-messaging campaigns can be structured to obtain the requisite level of consent. As a matter of brand protection and risk mitigation, you should make your franchisees aware of these risks and remedies.