Here we’ll take a look at the important components you should look for in a TCPA solution. There are two major components to TCPA compliance, and you want a solution that offers both:
1. Maintaining compliant operations is crucial to avoiding complaints in the first place. Even if you have the means to prove that you had prior written consent to call the consumer, you could end up spending an exorbitant amount of money in legal fees before you reach the discovery phase of the process, where you have the chance to provide that proof. And, as Cheryl Cooper, Esq. of Whitehouse & Cooper states in a blog on the firm’s website, “settling TCPA lawsuits for millions of dollars is often deemed the better course for large companies rather than fighting the charges.”
To that end, it is important to understand your TCPA compliance risk in real time, before you call the consumer (or even buy the lead, for that matter). If you deem the lead too risky, you may not call it and may market to that consumer differently, or perhaps you buy the lead at a lesser cost to cover the costs of dialing it manually.
2. The second aspect to compliance is the one many companies struggle with: proving compliance quickly and easily. Many companies historically have felt comfortable proving TCPA compliance on their own websites; that is, until they get in front of a judge and are asked to furnish evidence. I have heard stories of companies that believe they have a buttoned-up compliance strategy; they present an IP address, a timestamp, the consumer information, and maybe a screen shot of the site experience during the time the lead was submitted.
These disparate pieces of evidence are not simple to understand and, as a result, are not compelling enough to dismiss a complaint quickly. A robust TCPA solution will provide a single pane of glass into your own site—as well as with third-party sites—in real time, making it quick and easy to prove compliance, and police it all for you.
You also want to be sure the solution you select will monitor any changes to disclosures on partners’ sites. Some companies assign someone on their team to manually monitor websites where they buy leads and capture a screenshot of the disclosure to store for compliance purposes. Some might even show the screen grabs to their legal team to see if it is acceptable.
The first problem with this method is that the damage is already done by the time the lead buyer finds the problem; the leads in question from that vendor have almost certainly been purchased and called.
This approach is also not comprehensive since it is unlikely anyone could ever really locate every site that they’re getting leads from. Part of the value aggregators deliver to clients is in their purchasing power from and management of expansive affiliate partner networks. This results in the lead buyer having access to leads from hundreds of sites—great for purchasing diversification, but terrible for comprehensive compliance.
Manually web-crawling your lead vendors’ sites is also not systematic. Lead providers are often adding new affiliates, so a lead buyer has no knowledge of or control over the scope of the risk. They ultimately just have more disclosures, more management, and more risk.
This method of compliance is also not persuasive; these disparate facts are not compelling enough to prove that this specific consumer was shown this exact disclosure, during the specific lead event—and, if it does work, it’s not done quickly and easily before you spend money on IT and legal fees to prove it.
Finally, this approach is biased to favor the defendant, the lead buyer who is receiving the complaint. If there is a burden of proof, wouldn’t you rather have evidence that is furnished by a party with no stake in the outcome of the complaint?
It is always a challenge when trying to determine the right vendor for your organization’s needs, regardless of the challenge you are looking to solve. You need to be your own advocate and take the time to do the research and ask the right questions, then compare the information you’ve gathered to make the right decision.
In the case of TCPA compliance, selecting the right provider could mean all the difference in protecting your organization from crippling financial losses and reputation damage. My advice is to take the time to get all your questions answered and understood carefully before you pull the trigger on any solution.
Jeff Piotrowski is Senior Director of Insurance at Jornaya.