Do Not Call Violation
Since the implementation of the National Do Not Call Registry, several telemarketing companies have received citations and many do not call violators have had to pay steep fines for non-compliance. The citations and fines illustrate the need for telemarketers and sellers to ensure that their efforts are in full compliance with the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR).
It all started on December 18, 2003, when the FCC took its first action against a telemarketer for a do not call violation
. The case involved CPM Funding, Inc. (d.b.a. California Pacific Mortgage) who was cited for making telemarketing calls to consumers whose numbers were registered with the National Do Not Call Registry. The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau had previously notified them of consumer complaints and provided the firm with the opportunity to submit any information that could demonstrate the lawfulness of the calls and thereby exonerate them of any do not call list violation
. CPM Funding did not dispute making the calls and did not claim any exemptions or demonstrate that they complied with the commission’s standards governing the use of the National Do Not Call Registry. The FCC issued a citation for the do not call violation
and informed the firm that any further do not call list violations
could result in monetary forfeitures to the commission not to exceed $11,000 for each violation. (The current fine can be up to $16,000 for each violation.)
The FCC Bureau Chief David H. Solomon issued the following statement regarding the citation: “This is a landmark enforcement step – the first FCC action to enforce our new National Do Not Call rules. This citation demonstrates our resolve to endure that consumers are not bothered by unwanted, intrusive calls to their homes. Do Not Call enforcement is the FCC’s top consumer protection priority and we, along with our partners at the FTC, will continue to be vigilant in this area on behalf of the American public.” It was clear that the FCC had no plans to be soft on do not call list violators.
The FCC and FTC have since issued hundreds of citations and millions of dollars in fines to do not call violators. Had many of these telemarketers, however, been able to claim “Safe Harbor”, they could have avoided these costly fines. The TSR’s Safe Harbor provision provides a means for do not call list violators to avoid civil penalties or sanctions for erroneously calling a number on the National Registry.
To claim Safe Harbor in the event of a violation, a telemarketing company must show that it has established and implemented written procedures to honor consumers’ requests not to be called, has trained its personnel in these procedures, has maintained and recorded an entity-specific Do Not Call list, is using (and maintaining records documenting) a process to prevent calls to any number on an entity-specific Do Not Call list or the National Do Not Call Registry, is enforcing compliance with its written Do Not Call procedures, and proves that the call was the result of error.
The mission of Do Not Call Compliance is to provide telemarketers with the highest level of call compliance protection, including the ability to claim Safe Harbor in the event of a call violation, at an affordable price with a fast, easy-to-use system.