Predictive Dialer Featured Article

A Win Under the TCPA for Third Party Debt Collectors Calling Mobile Phones

If you do any kind of outbound telephone marketing, you may believe you know the rules quite well. Those rules are mostly put in place by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which governs the practice of outbound telemarketing, both in person or using automated outbound telephone calls.

So, let’s test your knowledge on the TCPA. Can you call a customer’s cell phone using pre-recorded auto-dialed outbound messages? If you say, “I’m not sure,” then no one would blame you. The TCPA is an often revised and even more often litigated ruling, and there are many gray areas that even the FCC (News - Alert) – the agency that enforces it – do not seem to understand. Depending on your industry, the answer changes.

The answer is that while it’s generally a no-no to call cell phones, for debt collection purposes, it’s OK, according to a revised ruling in 2008 by the FCC, collectors may use predictive auto-dialers and prerecorded calls to contact consumers on their cell phones.  When consumers provide their cell phone to a company, it’s considered “consent,” and that consent is, by definition, passed onto a third-party debt collector along with the business.

This latter rule – that debt collection companies accept the debt with “good faith” that the debtor had attained express consent – was recently clarified in a lawsuit filed by Pamela Chyba, who brought a TCPA action against First Financial Asset Management, Inc. Chyba claimed that FFAM made repeated calls to her cell phone using an auto dialer and without her permission, according to David Kaminski of law firm Carlson & Messler LLP and writing for the Web publication InsideARM.

Defendant FFAM, which was collecting on behalf of Enterprise Car Rental, said that since the plaintiff voluntarily gave her cell phone number to the car rental company in writing, it had a good faith belief that it had the right to call the number at issue. The district court agreed, noting that FFAM produced evidence that plaintiff provided her cell phone in the home phone number field in a document provided to Enterprise.

“This is the first time, to my knowledge, a court relied on a ‘good faith’ exception to a TCPA consent dispute based on a debt collector’s reliance on documents provided to it by a creditor,” said Kaminski. “In support of its ‘good faith’ holding, the district court relied on the 9th Circuit decision in Clark v. Capital Credit.  In Clark, the 9th Circuit held that with regard to ‘verification’ of a debt, a debt collector can rely on information provided to it by the creditor and has no independent duty to verify the accuracy of the information.”

This doesn’t mean credit collections companies are off the hook, however. There is a lot of room for error here. The cell phone number may be have been reassigned to someone else; if this is the case, it’s the debt collectors responsibility to cease calling. In addition, “good faith” means just that: third-party collections agencies should demand proof that their client was indeed given permission by the debtor. Finally, if a debtor tells you to stop calling their cell phone, any calls you make after that are in direct violation. 

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

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What Are Related Definitions You Should Know?

Related definitions that you should know as you increase your understanding of predictive dialers include:

Dialer: generic term for any computer-driven device that places outbound calls and connects the answered calls to an agent or operator.

Agent: telephone professional to whom a predictive dialer sends the ready call.

Predictive Dialer: Predictive dialing was introduced for the purpose of increasing efficiency within calling centers. They are computer based system that automatically dial groups of telephone numbers, and then passes live calls to available agents. The SpitFire Enterprise dialer utilizes sophisticated algorithms to speed up and slow down the call rate based on, number of available agents, number of available lines, the campaign’s average call time and other statistical information.

Quick Connect: Quick Connect allows your agents to log in one-to-one with a phone line. This option is great for B2B purposes, especially when your agent needs to be on the phone line through the entire call.

Fixed Dialing: Fixed Dialing gives your call center manager the power to manually set the volume of calls. The software will then automatically dial a predetermined number of lines per agent. Fixed dialing is ideal for political campaigns, charity campaigns, and other situations drop call ratios are not a factor.

Auto dialer: makes thousands of calls screening for busy signals, no answers, fax machines while detecting answering machines/voicemail and delivers pre-recorded messages. SpitFireX Auto Dialer is a low cost solution for voice broadcasting.

How Do Predictive Dialers Work?

Predictive dialers use complex mathematical algorithms that calculate, in real time:

  1. the number of available agents
  2. the number of phone lines available
  3. the probability of reaching a human being at a specific number
  4. the time between calls required for optimum agent efficiency
  5. the length of typical agent/customer or
    debtor conversations
  6. the average length of time agents require to wrap up after a call

SpitFire Enterprise Predictive SEP is a fully blended call center solution that supports unlimited lines, agents, and campaigns. Its greatest strength is in its flexibility: multiple campaigns can be set up, viewed, and changed with the click of a button. With easy options for customization, data and dispositions can be catered to each campaign. In addition to our user-friendly interface, SEPhighlights full customer data and combines multiple campaigns on one screen. All the information your agents need is accessible at a glance, freeing their energy to focus on what matters: the calls.

Keep It Simple with SpitFire Fully Integrated Call Center Software

Our greatest priority is making your call center run smoothly, and we do that by developing software that is intuitive and easily integrated with your current systems. SEP works seamlessly with most CRM applications and long distance carriers, making it the simplest and most cost-effective solution for your call center.

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Benefits of Using a Predictive Dialer

  1. Manages the process of dialing tens of thousands of calls or tens of millions of calls in its lifetime.
  2. Detects the result of the call, as an example: no answer, busy, fax, bad number, answering machine without any presence of human expertise. Consequently saving time by only transferring calls which are voice connects to the agents locally or remotely.
  3. Using predictive dialer increases the productivity of the company by drastically increasing the time agents spend on the phone talking to actual customers or prospective clients.
  4. Predictive dialer users get the ability to organize and better manage the client information, no lost notes scribbled on pieces of paper. The database used by the dialer organizes the calling structure.
  5. The most significant task done by the predictive dialer is to predict, which means always making an effort to get a live call to the available agent with the shortest amount of wait time. This is achieved by self learning algorithms within the predictive dialer to increase or decrease the dial ratio per agent, logged into the system.
  6. Inbound call can be better dealt with by allowing the customers to wait on hold in an IVR system, or a way to leave a message they'd like a callback while the agent is busy talking with other customers.
  7. Most important benefit of a predictive dialer is it reduces expenses for your company over a period of time since you do not need to buy and deploy a complex and sometimes extremely expensive PBX system. Your company will experience return of investment (ROI) in a period of six to twelve months.
  8. A predictive dialing system can effortlessly fit into your companies existing infrastructure since it is software controlled.
  9. The call routing logic and the contact management is all included in one software package. Your call routing logic implemented as per your specifications. Since it is a software package it can easily be upgraded even if you are located remotely with the help of internet.
  10. Provides an added cost effective method of managing the client database by giving the user of the predictive system ability to rework your database on previous call results.

    1. only redial records which were busy, no answers and answering machines
    2. Delete records which are bad numbers, disconnected numbers or operator intercepts
  11. Do a real time look up against the do not call database saving the predictive dialer user from accidentally calling people who have enrolled in the do National not call registry. This saves the company from lawsuits and others risks conforming to all legal statutes and FCC complaints.
  12. Provides progressive dialing capabilities like call blending which means handling inbound and outbound call at the same time.
  13. Provides ability to integrate call recording devices and call monitoring interfaces which helps call center supervisors to train agents and users and improve their customer support skills.
  14. Easy to setup and learn the predictive dialer logic and software tools.

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