Phone Marketers Beware

Phone Marketers Beware

Perhaps not metric research, but an important “discovery” if your organization's marketing messages sometimes reach wireless devices such as cell phones, pagers or personal 800 numbers. The DMA (Direct Marketing Association) warns that The Telephone Consumer Protection Act prohibits both for-profit and non-profit marketers from using an automatic telephone dialing system to call any device when the called party is charged unless that called party has given prior, express consent.

While the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) could have exempted calls to cell phones if the recipient does not pay for the call, it has not done so. Similarly, the TCPA and the FCC have not specifically exempted calls that are made under an established business relationship.

Therefore, as a legal matter, marketers using automatic dialing systems should not call consumers' or businesses' cellular phones, pagers or toll-free numbers unless they have given you permission to do so.

And, the DMA Guidelines go even farther, prohibiting marketers from knowingly calling a telephone number for which the called party must pay the charges regardless of whether the call was placed by a live representative or an automated dialer. The states, too, are beginning to go beyond federal law. For example, Illinois bars any unsolicited telemarketing calls to wireless devices regardless of whether or not the call was made using an automatic dialing system.

It is significant that soon the FCC will implement local number portability for wireless numbers. Consumers will be able to replace home phones with cellular phones and still maintain the same phone numbers. Number portability means that a wired number in a marketer's list could easily change to a wireless number without a marketer's knowledge.

The DMA is working with the FCC to resolve the problem of identifying wireless numbers after number portability is implemented and offers (for a fee) to assist marketers in identifying those area codes and prefixes assigned to wireless carriers.

Click for more information about DMA telemarketing guidelines.

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