Panel: DNC Devil Is in the Details

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PHOENIX -- Telemarketers who get tripped up on no-call violations may have gotten the basics right but encountered problems with the nuances of the new federal rules, a panel told members of the American Teleservices Association yesterday.

Speaking at the ATA's 20th Annual Convention and Exhibition here at the J.W. Marriott Desert Resort & Spa, the panel warned members that many gray areas in the new telemarketing regulations could prove troublesome. Panel members urged telemarketers always to take the most conservative approach possible to avoid being made an example by federal regulators.

Panelists told telemarketers to pay attention to important details such as tracking contacts to customers who qualify as existing business relationships. Telemarketers can call these customers up to 18 months after a transaction or three months after an inquiry. But once that time expires, those contacts must be scrubbed from calling lists.

Andrew Miller, vice president of relationship management with teleservices provider APAC, told ATA members to document their compliance practices assiduously. Such records could provide some protection when federal regulators come knocking, he said.

The panel cautioned members to be careful about relationship-marketing programs because an existing business relationship exemption that a company has with a customer may not always extend to that company's partners.

They also warned that regulations beyond the no-call list take effect soon, such as the abandoned-call rules that start Oct. 1 along with the no-call registry as well as the caller-ID requirement that starts in January.

Loopholes in the federal rules probably will become apparent, but telemarketers shouldn't try to exploit them, panel members said. Doing so would invite federal regulators to revisit the new rules and possibly toughen them.

"I wouldn't be surprised if we start finding loopholes when we start trying to comply and find ourselves five years from now with another rule to deal with," said panel member Karen Guiseppe, regional compliance manager with MBNA America. "We don't want that, either."


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