Intelligent PBX and TCPA Compliance

What Is TCPA?

In 1991, the United States Congress passed the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) to restrict telephone solicitations including automated dialing systems and prerecorded voice messages to mobile phones. Over the years, the TCPA has expanded, raising additional liability concerns and decreasing productivity of contact centers. Now it can affect anything from customer service to market research to collections to fundraising, or anything else that involves customer contact activities.

Nelson v. Santander

One such case in which the TCPA expanded was Nelson v. Santander. In March 2013, a federal court in the Western District of Wisconsin ruled that the TCPA prohibited calls made by an automated dialing platform to wireless numbers, including preview dialing.

The plaintiff accused the defendant, an automobile finance company, of violating the TCPA by placing over 1,000 calls to the plaintiff’s cell phone number and leaving 116 prerecorded messages over the course of a year in an attempt to collect two of the plaintiff’s auto loans.

The defendant had used an automated dialing system capable of running applications in both preview and predictive dialing modes to place outbound calls. The agent, operating in preview dialing mode, initiated the call by manually pressing a button on a computer screen rather than entering all ten digits on the phone keypad.

The case ultimately determined that whether or not preview dialing fell under the category of automated dialers was irrelevant. Rather, because the system used to make the call was able to make automated calls, the district court sided with the plaintiff and was awarded $571,000 in statutory damages.

So What?

While the judgment was vacated in June 2013 as part of a settlement between the parties, the Federal Communications Committee (FCC) adopted a Declaratory Ruling and Order (the Order) in response to twenty one petitions made by companies and trade associations seeking clarification as to the requirements of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA). The FCC summarized the guiding principle for the new ruling by saying “if a caller uses an autodialer or prerecorded message to make a non-emergency call to a wireless phone, the caller must have obtained the consumer’s prior express consent or face liability for violating the TCPA.”

The Rule Of Consent

The TCPA defines restrictions on calls to wireless numbers via automated dialers and predictive pacing without prior express consent of the called party, regardless of whether the calls are conducted with or without the attendance of an agent. The FCC determined that this law includes the use of any type of equipment with the “capacity” to be used as an automated dialing system. This includes the consumer being dialed automatically or as a result of an agent’s manual request. All services connected to customer contact such as collections, research, solicitations, service, or sales, must comply with this interpretation of the TCPA.

Consent, then, is the most effective way to minimize liability under the TCPA when dialing wireless numbers.

Know The Lingo:

  • Autodialers – using “capacity” to store, produce, and dial numbers using a random or sequential number generator in the TCPA means the “potential ability” to do so, whether or not additional software is required
  • Reassigned Wireless Numbers – no liability occurs for the first call made through an autodialer to a reassigned wireless number, however, the caller is presumed to recognize that the number dialed has been reassigned
  • Revocation of consent – the most reasonable interpretation of the TCPA’s consent requirement allows consumers to revoke consent through any reasonable method if they so desire

Enter: Intelligent PBX

The Intelligent PBX solution allows users to comply with all of the above restrictions and limitations. Most importantly, it can never be modified to enable autodialing functionality, so companies can call wireless numbers without fear of liability for non-compliance. Intelligent Contacts boosts TCPA compliance with the Intelligent PBX product by making sure that…

  • Live agents dial calls to wireless numbers on a digit-by-digit basis
  • No calling lists are ever stored in the phone system or any similar system that has the capability of placing calls.
  • Phone calls are never initiated via random or sequential dialing – this functionality has never existed in any IC system
  • As a hosted system the Intelligent Contacts system cannot be modified and thus has no potential capacity to become an autodialer
  • Users can configure complex compliance criteria the Intelligent Contacts Solution enforces
  • Users can prove compliance with complete call recording, starting with the call initiation and ending with call termination
  • The Intelligent Contacts Solution provides a compliance report to prove the user’s compliance with TCPA requirements
  • Quality metrics, full call recording, and analytics tools minimize productivity losses while maintaining complete compliance with dialing restrictions

The Intelligent PBX Solution ensures compliance by solely supporting manual calls placed by authorized users on the system. It never initiates a call to the PSTN on it’s own and has no capacity, or potential capacity, to ever do so.

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