Though it may seem like the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) is mostly relevant to those working directly with calls, that’s not entirely true. In fact, customers submitting leads online may end up on more phone calls than a typical call routing service would provide, since call routing services sell calls exclusively. Because of this, it is incredibly important for any lead generation company working with internet leads to be stringent about their TCPA compliance. Any one phone call made without a consumer’s consent could actually cost between $500 and $1500 dollars. That adds up fast. So how do you prove your compliance? Read on to find out more about internet leads and TCPA:
As a brief summary, TCPA requires that any business intending to call customers or prospects, whether manually or automatically, receive explicit consent to be called. This is why so many forms have a large block of legal text underneath, often talking about Terms & Conditions. This consent has to be proven if it’s ever called into doubt in a court of law. These rules have been in effect since October 2013, in an attempt to protect consumers from endless or annoying phone calls.
Proof is always a very particular subject in a court of law. When providing proof of consent, there are some do’s and don’ts. Some acceptable forms of proof include screenshots of the consent page associated with the date of contact or a complete record of user data submitted (including an IP address and a date). A URL to the page is not proof, because webpages change so frequently. Most commonly, proof of consent should be kept on file for at least five years in a secure place.
While hopefully this seems pretty straightforward so far, TCPA does have its nuances. For example, anyone selling web leads is assumed to have proof of consent, even once the lead is sold off to a third party. If consent is called into question, it is on the original generator of the lead to provide that proof, not the third party who is making the call. It is also unacceptable to have the checkbox of a consent form pre-checked, and it must be presented in a “clear and conspicuous manner.” No tiny text, no intentionally obtuse language, and no tricks. Finally, SMS messages fall under the same rules and are, for all intents and purposes, considered legally identical to phone calls.
Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. Anything said above is considered a useful practice, but is not a binding legal contract or anything of the sort. Consult the official TCPA guidelines to ensure you’re entirely within the bounds of the law.