Is your law firm fully compliant with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act or TCPA?
Do you outsource your advertising and intake to any third parties? If so, are your vendors’ systems and processes compliant with stringent TCPA rules? How can you be sure?
Did you know that a single violation could cost you $500? Read that again: a violation isn’t the total outreach to a client, it’s a single text. So, if your advertising firm uses auto-dialed calls and/or automated texting without getting proper opt-in, you could be responsible for thousands of dollars of violations per client.
A quick overview of the TCPA
The TCPA was passed by Congress in 1991 and signed into law by President George H.W. Bush, amending the Communications Act of 1934. It restricts phone solicitations -- or telemarketing -- and the use of automated telephone equipment, limiting the use of auto-dialing systems, prerecorded voice messages, SMS text messages, and fax machines. It also requires that entities provide identification and contact information in their messages.
Here are some of the rules under the TCPA that businesses must abide by unless they have prior express consent:
- Cannot call residences before 8 a.m. or after 9 pm, local time
- Must maintain a company-specific "do-not-call" (DNC) list of consumers who asked not to be called; the DNC request must be honored for 5 years
- Must honor the National Do Not Call Registry
- Must provide their name, the name of the person or entity on whose behalf the call is being made, and a telephone number or address at which that person or entity may be contacted
- Cannot solicit residences with an artificial voice or a recording
- Cannot send unsolicited advertising faxes
The penalties for violating the TCPA are steep:
In the event of a violation, a subscriber may (1) sue for up to $500 for each violation or recover the actual monetary loss, whichever is greater, (2) seek an injunction, or (3) both.
In the event of a willful violation of the TCPA, a subscriber may sue for up to three times the damages, i.e. $1,500, for each violation. (Source: Wikipedia: Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991)
If your law firm outsources its advertising and/or client intake functions to a third party that is not abiding by the TCPA you could be left holding the bag.
So, how do you know if your firm is using a marketing firm that is TCPA compliant?
Understand the advertising process and the landing pages where clients find you. If your advertiser/marketer can’t show you every step, run away.
If your firm uses SimplyConvert for advertising and client intake support, you can stop worrying. We’ve not only built a platform that is TCPA compliant, but also GDPR and HIPAA compliant so that law firms using our technology can rest assured they’re not violating these important laws without having to dive deep into the regulation weeds. (You can read more about SimplyConvert’s privacy practices here.)
Scammers are using the TCPA to target law firms for a quick buck
Last month, a SimplyConvert law firm was targeted by a scammer who thought he could make a quick buck by threatening to sue the firm over TCPA violations. Here’s what happened:
The man retained the lawyer’s firm to represent him in a mass tort lawsuit. Shortly after, the lawyer received an email stating that the firm had committed two violations in contacting him:
Attached to the email was a letter of intent to sue and a letter stating that the matter would be dropped if the law firm sent a check for $3,000:
Thankfully, the law firm was protected because it uses SimplyConvert for client intake. SimplyConvert ensures that potential clients proactively opt-in to receiving communications BEFORE they can proceed with signing a firm’s contract. The law firm was able to quickly dismiss the matter -- the man had provided his contact information and phone number and prior express written consent to be called/texted.
The bottom line
It’s important to take the time to ensure your firm’s advertising and client intake methods are entirely TCPA compliant. Knowing that your firm is doing right by consumers will not only give you peace of mind, it could also save you from a major headache, hefty fines, and protect you from scammers looking for a quick payout.