Nothing can ruin your day like cold calling fines. Here’s how to avoid them.
In the last thirty years, regulations on telemarketing have increased substantially. It’s a little strange when you think about it—after all, you’re only making phone calls—but because of some unprofessional telemarketers in the past, rules are in place to protect consumers from intrusive and even fraudulent sales calls. Violating any of these rules can result in cold calling fines that may be more expensive than you might think.
The good news is that you can avoid cold calling fines pretty easily. First and foremost, educate yourself on telemarketing regulations. Once you know the laws, put practices in place within your organization and your own call practices to make sure you never toe the line of legality. This may sound like a lot of work, but fortunately, it’s easier than it seems. You’ll not only save yourself headaches and money, but you may even protect your business from going under by adhering to a few simple rules.
There are three government agencies that regulate telemarketing and hand out cold calling fines. One of them is the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). In 1995, the FTC established the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR), which regulates the time of day you can make a sales call and what information you need to disclose. The rule was updated in 2003 to include provisions for not calling people who don’t wish to receive telemarketing calls, in addition to some other things. The TSR is the most comprehensive law out there for sales calls and it’s vital to adhere to at all times.
In addition to the FTC, there’s also the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which enacted the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) in 1991. The TCPA is similar to the TSR, and both the FTC and FCC have worked together over the years to make sure their separate rules generally coincide with one another.
Finally, if a sales call involves selling stocks and bonds, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) imposes some regulations on telemarketer behavior and disclosure.
Some states have laws in addition to the federal regulations, as well. You can learn the laws relevant to your state by contacting the attorney general’s office that governs your jurisdiction.
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How to stay in compliance and stay away from cold calling fines
To avoid hefty cold calling fines, you’ll want to follow the rules set forth by these regulatory agencies. Some behaviors that can result in penalties are:
- Making a sales call before 8 AM or after 9 PM (time-zone sensitive)
- Failing to clearly state who you are and the purpose of your call
- Misrepresenting who you are or what you’re selling
- Failing to provide an “opt-out” mechanism
- Using certain kinds of pre-recorded voicemail messages
- Calling someone who’s listed on the Do Not Call (DNC) registry
The TSR and TCPA outline several other regulations that you’ll need to follow, so we highly recommend following the links above to familiarize yourself with these laws further.
Additionally, remember to look into your state and local laws as well, as they may be more comprehensive and include regulations in addition to those already prescribed by federal agencies. You don’t want more cold calling fines in addition to any that come down from the federal level!
Of course, the vast majority of salespeople don’t break any of these rules on purpose. But mistakes happen, and at some point, you may find yourself in violation of one or more of these regulations. What will it cost?
In short, a lot. A single violation of the TCPA can run anywhere between $500 and $1,500. Calling someone on the DNC Registry can run you $40,000 for a single violation. Violating the TSR is even worse. Violations may cost as much as $42,530! And again, states may impose additional penalties, running up your bill even higher.
As you can see, it only takes a few cold calling fines like these to put you out of business, so it’s in your best interest to steer clear of breaking the rules.
To stay in compliance, you first have to make sure you’re familiar with the laws. Visit the various websites of the regulatory agencies on a schedule to help you ensure that you’re sticking to the most current policies on cold calling.
Another great way to stay in compliance is to invest in call management software like Call Logic. Our software is TCPA-compliant, meaning you can make automated calls with pre-recorded messages without worrying about whether or not you’re breaking the law. This kind of software can also help you manage do-not-call lists and provide you with scripts to ensure you disclose all the necessary information to consumers.
Talk with your colleagues about your telemarketing practices to make sure that you’re all on the same page. You can help each other stay in compliance by reminding each other of the rules and updating anyone who isn’t clear on amendments to the laws. Working together helps ensure consistency and provides accountability for everyone to stick to best practices, even when someone might occasionally forget.
Finally, always make sure you have the most current do-not-call lists. This simple tool can help you dodge massive fines that aren’t worth the mistake of calling the wrong person. And remember that even if someone isn’t on the national do-not-call list, if they’ve asked not to be contacted, then you have to leave them off your call list. Check with your company to see if they have an in-house do-not-call list that you should be adhering to as well.
Cold calling fines are serious business, but that doesn’t mean you have to let them ruin your business. Be aware of and follow the rules and you should be just fine.
Stay in compliance with software that knows the rules. Check out a free demo right now to see how our system helps keep you out of trouble.