NEW ORLEANS — When it comes to do-not-call list law, having a good DNC policy in place can protect against gung-ho attorneys general and money-seeking professional plaintiffs, two marketing attorneys told members of the American Teleservices Association yesterday.
James Scavo and Richard Capriola of Weinstock & Scavo, Atlanta, urged members to prevent litigation before it happens by ensuring they have strong DNC policies.
Implementing such policies is especially important now that the Federal Trade Commission is close to putting a national DNC list in place. Typically, in the immediate aftermath of the institution of new rules, federal and state regulators move quickly to announce enforcement action against any company unlucky enough to draw their attention, Capriola said. The action serves to warn other members of the industry.
“They'd like to have universal compliance,” Capriola said. “One way they do it is the deterrent factor.”
The consequences of running afoul of federal regulators can be extreme, Scavo said. While state regulators typically try to work out problems with warnings prior to taking a case to court, federal officials tend to get indictments and injunctions behind the scenes and announce them before their target learns what is going on.
Federal authorities can raid offices and freeze assets, including the individual assets of the owner of the company they are targeting, Scavo said. While he hasn't seen it happen in a DNC case, in a separate case a Scavo client found the checks for his children's college tuition began bouncing after federal authorities froze his bank accounts.
Vigilance in complying with DNC laws is necessary because state attorneys general are eager to please their constituents, and they communicate with each other and often cooperate in filing legal actions. Even peskier can be the private plaintiffs who look for every chance to file civil actions against telemarketers in hopes of reaping financial gains.
One how-to-sue-telemarketers manual is titled, “Telemarketers: Biggest Household Pest Since the Fly.” Plaintiffs often trade information and cooperate.
“They're out there, and organized,” Capriola said.
Telemarketers should ensure their DNC policy is distributed to all employees who make calls and make it available to consumers who request it. Scavo said that every company DNC policy should have these features:
· Establish an internal list of consumers who have asked not to be called and issue a statement of intent to comply with all applicable federal and state laws.
· Include a statement that the policy applies to all sales personnel working for the company, including outside contractors.
· Designate a compliance officer at the company.
· Establish procedures for screening calling lists against the internal DNC list.
· Outline procedures for incorporating new state and federal DNC lists and for updating existing internal DNC lists.
· Establish a policy for handling violations and complaints.