About Automating Outgoing Phone Calls

You can’t just load up a bunch of phone numbers into a database and start calling them. There are laws. Don’t break them.

Our automated outbound calls fall into three categories which I’ll cover in follow up posts. For now, I wanted to touch on some information anyone should know about before hooking up an application to make phone calls. Particularly when it comes to telemarketing and autodialed calls.

Federal Regulations

Back in 1991, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act was passed. It restricts phone solicitations and the use of automated dialing. It covers SMS messaging and faxing in addition to normal voice calls.

Here are some of the primary restrictions. There are more, so don’t take this as a complete list.

  • Don’t call anyone before 8am or after 9pm. If you do business across time zones, you need to deal with that.
  • You need to maintain you’re own do not call list. If someone asks to be put on it, add their number. You have to honor it for at least five years.
  • Honor the National Do Not Call Registry. See section below
  • Tell people who you are and your phone number or address.
  • Don’t call emergency lines or anyone who’d be charged for your phone call.
  • Don’t call cell phones without prior written consent. That’s right, you’re not allowed to make unsolicited calls to cell phones. Period.
  • As I said above, there are a lot of other rules.

If you break any of the above rules, you can get taken to court.

National Do Not Call Registry

The Do Not Call Registry allows anyone to register their phone number. Telemarketers are never supposed to call any registered number unless the person has given you permission.

You can register to access this database, either via an API or as a downloadable list at the Do Not Call Registry Telemarketer site.

Common Courtesy

Not all calls are unsolicited calls. You may just being trying to confirm a scheduled appointment. Regardless, you want to be courteous to the people you call.

  • Don’t make excessive calls.
  • If you get voicemail, and leave a message, give the person some time to respond. Don’t call back every five minutes until you reach someone.
  • If you talk to someone who requests a call back in three months, you should respect their request. Leave them alone for those three months.

More information

What is a Robocall?

Robocalls include automated phone calls made using autodialers. This includes calls that only contain pre-recorded messages and those where you speak to a live person.

What is an Autodialer?

Any type of equipment or computer software that dials phone numbers without human intervention.

How can you determine if a phone number is a landline or a cell phone?

A variety of sources exist to assist businesses and telemarketers to tell if a number is a mobile number. For example, NeuStar, as the North American Numbering Plan Administrator, the National Pooling Administrator, and the LNP Administrator, makes information available for the purpose of identifying phone numbers assigned to wireless carriers.

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