Do-Not-Call regulations: Do-Not-Worry?Jim Hamiltontelemarketing, web-based solutions, Do-Not-Call It's hard to believe that it's been one full year since the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) developed the national Do-Not-Call (DNC) list. The law requires all companies to comply with these regulations, and the need for cost-effective compliance solutions is skyrocketing. This is particularly true since the FTC continues to hand out fines of up to $11,000 per violation (not including possible fines from individual states). While some larger companies jumped on the compliance train as soon as the DNC list came out, others have sought out compliance solutions and found them to be too costly. Still other companies bring images to mind of Alfred E. Newman, the poster-boy for Mad Magazine, saying "What, me worry?" by ignoring the possible consequences. For a short while, no fines were handed out, which encouraged companies that ignored the law. Recently, however, enforcement of DNC regulations has been on the rise, and consumers on the DNC list seem to be happy with the fact that they are getting fewer and fewer calls. It's important to remember that the FTC is not targeting anyone for fines that is the consumer's job. Once an individual has signed up on the national DNC list, they have the ability to file a complaint against any company that calls them, and the FTC makes it fairly easy for them to do so. Once a complaint is filed, the FTC or the state attorney generals office will seek penalties for the violator. The size of the company or the type of sales call is not an issue (unless you are a non-profit organization or work on political campaigns); the only issue is making one call to a consumer who is under the FTC's protection. Once a complaint has been filed, there may be no escaping the fine unless the company already has a compliance solution in place, abides by all the rules and made the call in error. It is okay to make "errors" by calling consumers who are on the DNC list, but only if the company can prove that they are in compliance and simply made a mistake. More fines are being handed out all the time as consumers realize the power that they now have over companies that make sales calls and do not check numbers against the DNC list first. In the mortgage industry, the telephone has always been a powerful marketing tool. Nobody wants to give up on a great marketing technique, but some feel there is no choice. However, there is always a choice. The regulations do make marketing more difficult for businesses; however, all is not lost. Most telemarketing is still allowed, but businesses must follow the rules or face heavy fines. Some compliance services may be fairly costly, but there are other services on the market that don't go over that line. Web-based solutions such as Authtel's Callpermission.com, are quite cost-effective since they require less setup, little or no systems integration, and very little ongoing maintenance. Compared to a Web-based solution, creating an in-house compliance solution is far more expensive, particularly when you consider hiring an individual whose job it is to create, set up and maintain the compliance system. Outsourcing the compliance solution is the easiest way to hop on the compliance bandwagon, but you must make sure that the service you elect will help you cover all of your bases. Under the FTC's rules, there is a safe harbor provision. Companies will be safe from fines as long as they stay in compliance with all regulations. The initial step to get your business in compliance is the toughest. After that, staying compliant is easy. If done properly, we will all be safe from fines and saying, "What, me worry? No, not me!" Jim Hamilton is marketing manager for Authtel LLC. He may be reached at (888) 849-5207 or e-mail [email protected].