By Tamiracle Williams
Many homeowners receive dozens of calls and text messages when they list a home without an agent or when they remove a property from the multiple listing service, according to Inman. Many REALTORS® use various customer-relationship management tools and automated phone marketing technology to generate a list of potential homebuyers or sellers to contact. With this list, agents can automate texts, phone calls and leave ringless voicemails. However, many agents fail to realize that these automated marketing tools could be a violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act signed by President Bush in 1991 was implemented to protect consumers from harassing calls, spam texts, junk faxes and solicitation voicemails. In conjunction with the TCPA, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released rules and regulations for telemarketers to follow. Here are the current rules and regulations under the Act:
- Solicitors can not call before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
- Solicitors can not contact people with an auto dialer or prerecorded message who have not explicitly consented to be contacted
- Companies must keep an up-to-date list of people who have requested to be removed from their telemarketing list
- Solicitors must include their full name, company name and contact information in messages
- Solicitors must provide an opt out feature for calls and text messages.
In addition, the Federal Trade Commission created the National Do No Call Registry for consumers who do not want to receive telemarketing calls. The FTC prohibits contacting people on this and provides consumers with a way to report soliciting messages. The minimum penalty for violating the TCPA or contacting someone on the Do Not Call Registry is $500.
Real estate professionals who choose to use lead generation or phone marketing technology should use caution when using autodialing or auto texting services. Here are some ways to avoid violating the TCPA:
- Make sure that the marketing software you are using has obtained written consent from the parties you wish to contact.
- Check telemarketing.donotcall.gov to avoid sending automated communications to a registrant on the Do Not Call Registry.
- Review in-house do not call list to remove any additional prospective homebuyers or sellers who do not want to be contacted by your brokerage.