There has been a lot of buzz lately about the updates to the rules for the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The Act has been around since 1991, but it suddenly has new teeth, thanks to the FCC’s adoption of the new rules in June. And while the vote on the updates was passed by the FCC, it was a split 3-2 vote, showing that it wasn’t a slam dunk, even for them.
So, what are the main components of this new rule?
1. There is a new definition of “autodialer” which now includes equipment which has the potential for autodialing capabilities in the future. Basically, any system that is not a rotary-dial phone could be considered an autodialer. This includes virtually any smartphone, tablet and apps that may store a phone number.
2. If a number has been reassigned to someone other than your member, you get ONE call to that number before further contact is prohibited. There is no allowance for situations where the call was not answered and you didn’t know it was reassigned. And, let’s not forget about situations where someone sees dollar signs when receiving your call on his/her reassigned number and doesn’t tell you it has been reassigned. They then turn around and file a lawsuit against your credit union for violating the TCPA.
3. Consumers must provide “Express Written Consent” to receive live and recorded calls AND text messages including “internet-to-phone” texts. The Consent must contain a clear and conspicuous disclosure that telemarketing calls or texts may be made using an autodialer or artificial voice and that providing consent does not require a purchase.
4. Consumers also have the right to revoke consent by any “reasonable means” including verbally.
5. One-time text messages don’t violate the rule if they are requested by the member and the messages only include information requested by the member.
6. There are some very limited and specific exceptions that allow the use of calls/texts for “urgent” situations such as fraud alerts, etc. However, “urgent” isn’t defined and consumers will still have the right to revoke consent for these calls.
While these new rules are aimed at preventing, or at least limiting, calls from “spammers”, those of us with legitimate business purposes to contact our members will be impacted.
So, just because a member gives you their number and wants you to call them, don’t forget to say “Maybe” before making that call.