Cheap Leads? Don’t Robocall or Spam Your Way to SuccessAugust 1, 2016 | By: Sean Murray
As the cost of acquisition goes up, you may be tempted to take a second look at cheaper forms of marketing where the laws are fuzzy. Or worse yet, maybe even where the law is clear about what not to do. And if you’re a rather small company, you may be thinking that nobody’s going to notice or care. History shows otherwise.
Some companies in the industry have found themselves on the other end of a Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) lawsuit lately as a result of alleged robocalling. Last year, Michael Goodman, an attorney for Hudson Cook, LLP, wrote that “Although the FCC discussion of its TCPA guidance touts the protections provided to consumers, the autodialer provisions apply equally to business-to-business calling. MCA companies must be aware of the TCPA’s autodialer requirements for B2B calling campaigns. They can be sued for improper calls placed to businesses, as well as errant B2B calls that are answered by individual consumers.”
The maximum FCC fine for each robocall made is $16,000, enough to put just about any company out of business even if they relied on them for just a short period of time.
“The FCC’s TCPA rules establish that callers must have the call recipient’s ‘prior express written consent’ for sales calls placed to cell phones using an autodialer or a prerecorded message,” Goodman wrote. “This form of consent requires a signed writing from the call recipient and requires certain ‘magic words’ disclosures that must be provided when the consent is obtained.”
Of course, one recurring theme in the world of TCPA lawsuits, are rumors about business owners filling out forms on websites with their cell phone number, hoping it leads to calls they will then claim were unsolicited. While obviously frustrating if true, the easiest way to avoid TCPA problems is to stay within bounds of the law.
One business loan lead generation company is still feeling the burn of the federal government six years after they got in trouble for fax blasting. Steven Pashmfouroush, who used several aliases to operate EZ Business Loans, was busted by the FCC for violating The Unsolicited Facsimile Rules in 2010. The penalty? $1.68 Million.
As a result, EZ Business Loans went out of business. But after years of claiming he could not afford to pay, the FCC agreed to a final settlement two months ago. As part of that, he is prohibited from sending any kind of fax advertisement for the next three years.
Worth it? Probably not.Last modified: August 1, 2016
Sean Murray is the founder of deBanked, an 11-year veteran of the merchant cash advance industry, a casual Lending Club and Prosper note investor, the co-founder of Daily Funder, an alternative lending speaker, consultant, writer, and enthusiast. Connect with me on LinkedIn or follow me on twitter.