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Regulatory Requirements that Impact US Call Centers Using a Publicly Switched Telephone Network

Posted by Ahmed Macklai on Sep 13, 2018 7:30:00 AM

publicly switched telephone network

Federal regulatory requirements for call centers are a uniform set of rules that govern all call center operations in the 50 states and in American territories. Federal authorities governing call centers are the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Let’s look at the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and the Telemarketing Sales Rule - as these two have most immediate impact on call center operations using the publicly switched telephone network.

Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) Breakdown

The TSR defines telemarketing as a business that uses a marketing plan to induce customers to purchase goods or services or solicit charitable contributions using interstate telephone calls on a publicly switched telephone network. This definition holds whether the calls are inbound or outbound. Theoretically, even offshore call centers must comply with the Telemarketing Sales Rule when they are calling customers in the United States. There are some exemptions from the TSR, even though these businesses do conduct telemarketing campaign.

  • Banks, credit unions, and savings-and-loan entities.
  • Common carriers when engaging in a common area or activity. Common carriers are businesses that include airlines, trucking companies, and other businesses that transport people or goods. Common carriers under US code > title 47 > chapter 5 > subchapter 2 also include telephone companies operating on a publicly switched telephone network.
  • Nonprofit corporations are section 501 for nonprofits, section 521 work farmers cooperatives, and section 527 or political organizations of the Internal Revenue Code.
  • Sellers of specific investment vehicles, including brokers, dealers, securities dealers and brokers, futures commission merchants, commodity trading advisors, and other professionals regulated by the SEC. Sellers in this category are subject to the FCC’s telemarketing rules outside of the TSR.
  • Certain B2B calls, with the exception of nondurable office supplies or cleaning supplies.

And, of course, there are exemptions to exemptions such as when a charity uses a profit telemarketing company to solicit on their behalf.

 The Telemarketing Sales Rule is an extensive document that governs how call centers may conduct their business legally. Primary requirement or all telemarketing operations is the disclosure of material information in a clear and conspicuous manner. The definition of “clear and conspicuous” is that the telemarketer presents information in a way that ordinary consumers will easily comprehend when given in the consumer’s language, and in the same tone and volume as a sales offer. Information that sellers must provide to the consumer include but are not limited to:

  • Cost and quantity.
  • Negative option and continuity plans.
  • Restrictions, limitations, and conditions.
  • No refund policies.
  • Prize promotions.
  • Credit card loss protection or debt relief services.
  • The identity of charitable organizations who are employing a third-party to solicit donations.

Additionally, the telemarketing sales rule prohibits all false and misleading statements that could be used to induce a customer to pay for goods or services or making a donation. There are other activities that are governed such as times when calls may be made, and the conduct of the telemarketing agent making the call.

publicly switched telephone network

Telephone Consumer Protection Act Breakdown

The TCPA also covers telemarketing activities carried out over a publicly switched telephone network. Additionally, these regulations apply to autodial calls, prerecorded calls, text messages, and unsolicited fax messages. Additionally, the TCPA also covers the National Do Not Call List. Let’s take a look at some of the primary points of the TCPA:

  • No advertising call for telemarketing calls may be made before the recipient’s local time of 8 AM or after 9 PM.
  • At no time may any call be placed to a residential or cellular number on the National Do Not Call Registry.
  • Prerecorded messages must at all times include the identity of the business or party responsible for initiating the call, the return telephone number, and IVR or touchtone-activated opt-out mechanism that will allow the receiving party to be placed on an internal do not call list.

Interestingly enough, the TCPA does not cover collections calls. The FCC determined that debt collection calls are not telemarketing as they do not sell goods or services. Unless a debt collection firm is also marketing a financial product, these calls will remain unregulated under the TCPA.

Other Regulatory Issues

In addition to FTC and the FCC, call center operations defined that they must also deal with industry-specific regulations. For example, healthcare-oriented call centers must be compliant with HIPAA, and financial services groups must be compliant with SEC laws governing their activities. Additionally, the states also regulate call centers within their borders with respect to certain activities. When you are fielding a call center, a law firm that is well-versed in federal and local law with regard to telemarketing can help to keep you on the sunny side of the state’s attorney general as well as federal regulatory agencies. Simple maintenance activities such as scrubbing leads against the national do not call registry also help to avoid fines and other actions. Finally, aggressively training call center hires and keeping training up to date with new developments will prevent regulatory black marks and customer complaints.

Upgrade and Update

Call centers have a bewildering amount of regulations around, but by upgrading and updating call-center software to a higher standard, agents and management can work together to avoid any actions that would bring regulatory agencies at the state or federal level down on the operation. ChaseData has nearly two decades of experience in helping call centers streamline operations and stay ahead of the regulatory curve. With cloud-based hosting, integrations for favored CRM and productivity apps, call recording, and compliance updates, ChaseData is the team you need on your team.

Getting started is easy. Simply schedule a free 30-minute demonstration, where we will get to know your operation and we will showcase our product. After that, your best agents can road test our call center software, fully featured, for 14 days. Once you see are agent interface, and how many tools are available to management, supervisors, and agents, you will be amazed. Robust analytics make the most of your data and help you accurately set benchmarks for your KPI. Don’t miss out, and don’t mess up, make ChaseData your call center solution.

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