March 2011: Navigating the Compliance Rapids
by Brendan Read, TMCnet Senior Conributing Editor.
If complying with laws and regulations can be likened to navigating a rapids-strewn river, here are the rocks and undercurrents for contact centers to watch out for:
Telemarketing Law Enforcement
More than ever before contact centers should take every pos?sible step to comply with U.S. federal and state telemarketing laws. The major reason is money: big federal and state budget deficits that are forcing officials to extract funds from whatever sources they can avail themselves without annoying voters.
Ryan Thurman, director of sales and marketing, Contact Center Compliance expects stepped-up enforcement in 2011. Telemarketer crackdowns yield fines that, subtracted for costs, yield treasury hauls as well as good publicity for the lawmakers.
Consumers have become very aware about the do not call (DNC); it is very easy to get on the list and to file complaints against suspected violators, he adds. Yet many individuals are not aware of the DNC registry exemptions, such for companies they have existing business relationships with.
"The federal DNC registry is a popular consumer program but a complicated one to comply with as states have imposed further restrictions that are often more stringent, which makes it easy to trip up telemarketers and make them easy targets," Thurman points out. "There are about 196 million numbers on the national list but there are many that should not be on it such as businesses and numbers that have been disconnected and re-assigned.
Also 13 states still maintain their own DNC lists, some seven years after the federal DNC law went into effect?that also required states to roll their lists into the federal one. Thurman?s firm ran the state lists against the federal data?base at the end of 2010 and found there were 4.5 million numbers on them that are not registered on the national DNC list. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reported that 36 states had their own DNC lists prior to the national list going into effect in 2003.
"The DNC lists are still a revenue generator for the states," explains Thurman. "And they are under no pressure within the states or by the federal government to give them up."