The latest Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) law from the FCC, effective October 16, 2013, is on the street in full force. We should all pay attention. Violations of the TCPA are punishable by fines of up to $16,000 per individual call made in violation. The TCPA also allows the consumer to bring a private civil action for $500 per violation—or three times that amount if the violation was willful.
If you are a lender and use auto dialers with pre-recorded messages, auto texting or faxing to communicate your collection or telemarketing efforts to your customers mobile phones, you better have their consent to do so. Non-automated collection calls to mobile phones are acceptable per the TCPA regulation. Collection calls do not require the “opt-out” option on the automatic dialer that telemarketing calls require.
The best way to obtain written consent is to include the express consent language to receive calls, texts or faxes in your "terms of service" the customer agrees to when they accept your service either in writing or through e-consent. Here are some additional tips to help ensure you're TCPA compliant:
- Make certain consent is given to receive these calls either from you directly or a third party on your behalf.
- A check box indicating if the phone number provided is a land line or cell number is a good idea.
- If the check box is used as consent, clearly indicate that.
- The wireless number provided must have been given as a direct connection to the debt transaction they are calling in reference to.
There are services available that will scrub your telephone calling list for mobile phone numbers. These services will also flag numbers that were recently converted to cell phone numbers. By flagging these numbers, you can remove them from your call list. The TCPA provides a safe harbor for companies who regularly scrub for mobile numbers. If you scrub your list once every 15 days, and you accidently hit a mobile number that was not picked up by the scrubbing, you will likely not be considered in violation.
The latest update from Nortridge Loan System provides new TCPA support features that will enable our customers to identify mobile numbers, flag them as such, capture when consent to call was provided, and provide scrub date verification (through the xml interface). Additionally, If the phone number changes, the consent date and scrub date will clear out and need to be verified. NLS users who are members of our Online Community can review the 4.8.1 release webinar at the following link https://community.nortridge.com.
If you'd like to read a bit more about TCPA, here are a couple of sites I find useful: