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A new proposed order from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which applies only in the United States, is a comprehensive strategy to address unwanted telephone calls and texts to reassigned phone numbers.
Currently, companies have no way of knowing when a phone number is reassigned. Multiple class-action lawsuits have been filed on behalf of unhappy consumers who never opted in to receive communication from marketers. How do you help both marketers—who want to follow legal guidelines and steer clear of lawsuits—and consumers—who want to hear only from brands they know and love?
The new FCC order:
- Includes creating a comprehensive database of reassigned phone numbers to help marketers identify when numbers have been reassigned or permanently disconnected.
- Requires disconnected telephone numbers to have a 45-day minimum aging period before they can be reassigned.
- Requires all North American Numbering Plan numbers and toll-free numbering administrators to report disconnected numbers to the database every month.
Timeline for the Reassigned Numbers Database
The FCC will contract with an external company to create the database and to ensure guidelines and technical requirements are followed. The FCC guidelines require adding minimal information to the database to keep it free of unnecessary details. The database will include wireless phone numbers, landline phone numbers, and voice-over IP services. The database will be ready to receive information in about a year.
After the database is complete, the FCC will establish a process for carriers to start entering data. The FCC has begun imposing an obligation on phone number providers to begin gathering and storing information about reassigned phone numbers, ensuring reassigned phone numbers and required information will be ready for the database. The process could take approximately 18 months to 2 years.
What Can Text Message Marketers Do While Waiting for the Reassigned Numbers Database?
Text message marketers can take three proactive actions while the comprehensive database is still in development.
First, marketers can use databases such as Contact Center Compliance at DNC.com as the first line of defense. These databases maintain accurate data to help telemarketing companies ensure they comply with TCPA regulations.
Second, another proactive step is to include an option in their messages—such as “Text STOP” to opt out”—to make it easy for consumers to stop receiving messages from a company. The One-Call Safe Harbor gives companies a one-text grace period so consumers can opt out if they receive an unwanted text at their reassigned number—with no penalty to the company accidentally texting them that first time.
Third, marketers can review terms and conditions with customers who opt in to receive communication from the company. Terms and conditions must include a requirement for consumers to notify the company when they’re no longer associated with that phone number. If there are ever allegations or arguments that you intentionally violated the TCPA, these proactive measures show that you are taking reasonable precautions to only contact consumers if they agree.
Understanding TCPA Regulations for Text Message Marketing
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