In the United States, there are two federal government agencies that regulate the laws and policies for certain types of communications and advertising involving telephones. Those agencies are the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
In 2009, the FTC issued new regulations that required businesses to obtain written consent before sending pre-recorded voice broadcast messages to consumers. These types of messages are often referred to as “robo-calls”. There are a number of requirements that are still in effect from the 2009 regulations, as well as some new requirements that took effect in 2013 based upon changes by the FCC.
It’s a complex body of law to explain in a short article, but the key point to be aware of is that if you want to send automated text messages or voice broadcast messages of a promotional nature to your customers, you need to obtain written consent before sending the messages.
Written consent can be obtained in a number of different ways, such as through an online form, in writing on a printed paper, and more. But the consent being given by the individual must be clear, and has to be an option that they specifically select for their particular phone number. In other words, you can’t have a box already pre-selected where they are asking to receive voice or text broadcasts. It has to be something they affirmatively ask to receive.
Certain types of messages are exempt from the requirements, such as informational messages telling you that your flight or appointment has been cancelled. There are also a number of specific disclosures and requirements that must be complied with on these types of messages as well, such as for handling opt-outs, identifying who you are, etc.
With the recent changes in law by the FCC, it is important to mention that there are now also some requirements that you obtain written consent before using auto or predictive-dialed LIVE AGENT calls to cell phones. This means that if you use live agents to make telemarketing calls with any type of software that gets the person on the phone first, you need to make sure you have written consent before auto-dialing anyone on their cell phones for a telemarketing type of message.
Here are few resources you can refer to if you want additional information on these regulations:
1. Complying with the Telemarketing Sales Rule – www.business.ftc.gov
2. Unwanted Telephone Marketing Calls – www.fcc.gov/guides
The bottom line is that the laws governing text and voice broadcasting and other communications by telephone with individuals is constantly changing, and you should periodically review your company’s procedures to ensure compliance with the most current laws.