July 27th, 2020

TRACED Act Expands Reach and Impact of TCPA

Today, the TRACED Act raises the stakes for compliance with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) in three ways. First, the FCC may propose to penalize certain TCPA violations without first issuing a warning to offenders. Second, the FCC may impose a penalty up to $10,000 per intentional illegal robocall, in addition to other forfeitures—and in addition to the $500-to-$1,500-per-call penalty that consumers may seek in class-action lawsuits. And finally, the statute of limitations for enforcement against intentional violators increases from one year to four.

After today, legitimate outbound dialing organizations that continue to rely on incomplete or publicly available data for their TCPA-compliance posture will assume significantly more risk.

Update: FCC rolls out Robocall Mitigation Database

Most CRMs pose TCPA risk

The TCPA requires that companies have consent from the current subscriber to call or text a consumer when using an auto-dialer or to transmit recorded messages. The current subscriber can be a moving target. Every year, 48 million people change their phone carriers or phone numbers. According to Neustar internal data, three percent of typical CRM records go out of date in a single month.

This data decay increases TCPA risk and manifests into an operational headache. The moment a “clean” CRM goes into production, it begins to go out of date. Risk of violating the TCPA increases the longer the data ages.

A commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Neustar (Why Consumers Won’t Take Your Call, July 2019) found that over 60 percent of respondents believe that resolving “lack of contact data” is “critical” or “important” to addressing challenges in contacting consumers, that 48 percent of firms experienced increased operational costs, and that 43 percent lost productivity due to these challenges.

Credit bureaus cannot help. The type of customer intelligence that they aggregate—consumers’ credit risk and behavior, as well as Know Your Customer identifiers, such as dates of birth and social security numbers—has no value for TCPA compliance. Credit bureaus are not in the business of maintaining the up-to-date consumer data necessary for outbound dialing.

There are some third-party vendors that collect, organize, and clean consumer data. Referencing these multiple authoritative data sources can corroborate changes in consumer data. However, contradictions and blind spots that span across these sources make it very difficult for outbound dialers to establish the single source of truth necessary to operate effectively.

A Deloitte survey found that two-thirds of data profiles created by “a leading consumer data broker” were 50 percent correct at best. The other third of profiles were 25 percent accurate at best. Outdated data was the most common problem.

The lack of accuracy in data brokers’ files is due in part to their original use case in marketing applications. Historically, marketers were more focused on a file’s reach than its quality; the tolerance for incorrect data was higher given marketers’ goal of reaching as many people as possible.

Meanwhile, consumers exasperated with these types of calls may be less tolerant of receiving legal robocalls mistakenly directed at them without their consent. That fatigue could precipitate more class-action lawsuits(1) and increase the risk of the offending dialer receiving higher fines from the FCC, especially after today's milestone.

Avoid unintentional dialing compliance violations

By itself, one data element recorded at a single point in time will not provide enough insight to understand the risk associated with contacting consumers. It is the relationship of multiple data elements, continuously corroborated against multiple authoritative sources, that can establish the TCPA risk associated with dialing or texting a specific phone. Those elements could include answers to the following questions:

  1. Has the phone number been reassigned to another consumer?
  2. Are there breaks in subscriber continuity that suggest the phone number has been reassigned?
  3. Does the subscriber name still belong to that number?
  4. Has the phone number been reassigned?
  5. Is the phone wireless or a landline?
  6. Has the number been consistently active?
  7. Is the phone a prepaid phone number that is frequently churned to other subscribers?
  8. Is the phone a Voice-over-Internet-Protocol (VoIP) number that could resolve to a mobile phone?

In addition to mitigating TCPA risk, consumer data intelligence with this degree of detail can also increase the operational efficiencies in outbound calling through higher right-party-contact (RPC) rates.

Improve TCPA compliance posture, CRM accuracy, and RPC rates

With the increased penalties and longer statute of limitations enacted by the TRACED Act, it is critical that outbound dialing organizations ensure that their consumer data complies with the TCPA. Neustar Contact Compliance Risk enables that compliance.

Neustar Contact Compliance Risk provides insights on who to call or text and how to prioritize numbers for lowest risk and highest efficiency in call center operations. By leveraging unique relationships with telecom providers and powering over 90 percent of caller ID in the U.S., Neustar verifies, in real time, the linkages among a consumer's name, phone number, valid consent, and other attributes. With the most accurate phone intelligence in the industry, Neustar provides unique insight into the attributes of nearly any phone number. As verified changes to consumer data occur, Neustar proactively pushes updates directly to client databases.

For companies that make a substantial number of outbound calls to consumers, this is about more than keeping on the right side of the FCC’s expanded powers. It's also about getting the most out of operations, which play a crucial role in driving sales and fortifying the bottom line. The precision of Neustar data intelligence reduces the risks associated with the TRACED Act’s expansion of TCPA regulations and improves outbound dialing organizations’ RPC rates by as much as 19 percent. Better compliance and better operations start with better data.

1. Verdicts in class-action lawsuits relating to TCPA can soar into the hundreds of millions of dollars. The rate at which these lawsuits were filed rose 26 percent year over year in the first five months of 2020.

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