The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and its recent interpretations by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit 1 present a unique challenge to organizations that rely on autodialers to call or send text messages. Organizations must now go beyond identifying wireless phone numbers to further verify the current subscriber before auto dialing. However, this is increasingly difficult because phone data is constantly changing and wireless phone data is particularly difficult to verify.
As background, the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) implemented the TCPA in 1991 to restrict the use of autodialers from calling or sending text messages to wireless phone numbers, unless there is prior consent provided by the subscriber. Even with prior subscriber consent, new interpretations impose strict liability for TCPA violations if an organization autodials a phone number that has been reassigned to a new subscriber as a wireless phone number. This underscores the need to verify both the current phone type and owner of a phone number before auto dialing. Those who are unable to authoritatively verify this phone data risk TCPA violations, which can lead to costly fines, litigation and negative press.
To confidently navigate TCPA auto dialing restrictions without sacrificing operational efficiency, organizations must rely on current and authoritative phone data insights.
How Phone Data is Changing Today
Phone data changes every day, from the device type to the subscriber. Phone numbers can be ported from wireline to wireless devices and vice versa. Phone numbers can also be reassigned from one subscriber to another. This presents a unique challenge to organizations, as what they believe to be a landline belonging to consumer “A” today, may be a cell phone belonging to consumer “B” tomorrow.
Authoritatively verifying that a wireless number still belongs to a consumer is extremely difficult, given that wireless phone numbers are typically private. What’s more, as a result of the ever-increasing migration away from wireline to wireless devices and that 35.8%2 of households are now wireless-only, this pool of hardto-verify and strictly regulated wireless phone data will only continue to grow. This makes it all the more difficult to comply with TCPA auto dialing restrictions.
Autodial Wireless Numbers without Violating TCPA
To autodial phone numbers in a TCPA compliant manner, organizations must first correctly identify the current phone type as either wireline or wireless. If a phone number is wireless and no prior consumer consent exists to call or text message that number, then it must be manually dialed. Where prior consumer consent exists for a wireless phone number, it can only be autodialed if it is verified that the current subscriber of that phone number has not changed. When a number has been reassigned to a different subscriber then the organization will be liable for auto dialing a consumer’s wireless phone number without consent.
|Guide to Navigating TCPA Auto Dialing Restrictions:|
|Call Type||Wireline Telephone Number||Wireless Telephone Number|
|Collections and Informational||May use an autodialer and/or a prerecorded message to call.||Autodialing for calls and texts, and/or use of a prerecorded message require “express consent”.|
|Telemarketing||Use of a prerecorded message requires “express written consent”.||Autodialing for calls and texts, and/or use of a prerecorded message require "express written consent”.|
On the other hand, to prevent TCPA violations, organizations could manually dial all wireless phone numbers, even where they believe they have prior consent. This would, however, significantly decrease operational efficiency and increase costs due to the prevalence of wireless phones and the higher costs associated with manual dials.
Mitigate Risk While Driving Top and Bottom Line Growth
Complying with new TCPA auto dialing restrictions does not have to compromise operational efficiency. Authoritative phone data can deliver powerful insights in real time to help mitigate TCPA risk and streamline operations as well as increase productivity and sales by:
- Instantly identifying the current phone type — efficiently and accurately filtering wireless phone numbers without prior consent out of an autodialer to mitigate TCPA compliance risk.
- Instantly verifying the current owner of a phone number — freeing up valuable resources, decreasing time spent on manual review and increasing right-party contact rates.
- Instantly updating and appending the most accurate address and phone information — shortening the number of attempts it takes to reach subscribers with better contact information and increasing contact rates.
- Instantly identifying active phone numbers and understanding recent phone activity — enabling organizations to prioritize phone numbers with recent activity, filter out inactive phone numbers and increase dialer efficiency and response rates.
The Importance of Authoritative Phone Data
Leveraging authoritative phone data insights in real time streamlines the manual review process by instantly and accurately verifying phone data.
Access to authoritative phone data—which is the most current, complete and accurate wireline and wireless data available—is essential for mitigating TCPA compliance risk without sacrificing operational efficiency. Due to the constantly changing and hard-to-verify nature of this data, organizations must now correctly verify both the current phone type and subscriber before auto dialing wireless phone numbers. Fortunately, with authoritative phone data insights it’s possible to both mitigate TCPA compliance risk while also increasing operational efficiency and productivity.
About Neustar Information Services
Neustar sets the industry bar for data accuracy, currency and coverage — instantly providing organizations with exceptionally accurate phone data intelligence to mitigate the risk of violating TCPA auto dialing restrictions. Through our exclusive, proprietary relationships with the nation’s telecommunications providers, Neustar is uniquely positioned to deliver authoritative phone data insights — in real time — that cannot be found anywhere else.