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Calling All Customers: An Exception to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act

By Matt Goble 15 May 2019

The Federal Trade Commission created the National Do-Not-Call Registry in 2003 to further the objectives of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act by allowing consumers to register residential landline and wireless telephone numbers to prohibit unwanted telephone solicitations. The National DNC Registry applies to calls to consumers but does not prohibit telephone solicitation calls to a business number. Calls made to business numbers inadvertently registered with the National Do-Not-Call Registry are not violations of the TCPA.


Before your institution's marketing department launches an advertising campaign, your team should consider the National Do-Not-Call Registry prior to making any telephone solicitations. Remember, the definition of "telephone solicitation" excludes calls made to any person with whom your institution has received prior express permission or consent, even if the consumer has a number registered on the National DNC Registry. Additionally, the DNC rules exclude from the definition of telephone solicitation any call made to a person with whom you have an established business relationship. So you are still permitted to call customers who have registered with the DNC Registry unless, of course, they requested to be placed on your institution-specific do-not-call list.


As it relates to the Do-Not-Call provisions, an established business relationship is a prior or existing relationship formed with or without consideration of a consumer's purchase or transaction with your institution. Specifically, an established business relationship extends for 18 months from the date of a purchase or transaction with a consumer. It extends for three months from the date of inquiry or application for credit with a consumer. The 18 months runs from the date of the last payment or transaction with your institution even if you are not currently providing a product or service to the consumer. The existence of financial agreements, including bank accounts, credit cards, loans, insurance policies and mortgages establish an ongoing relationship that permits your institution to contact consumers to notify them of changes in terms of a contract or to offer new products and services.


Consumers should not be surprised to receive a call from a financial institution at which they have an account even if they have not transacted any business on that account for over 18 months. An established business relationship exists during the time a financial contract remains in force between your institution and a consumer. Once the consumer closes the account is closed or terminates the contract, your institution will have an additional 18 months from the last transaction to contact the consumer before the established business relationship is terminated.


Consumers who wish to stop telephone solicitations from only certain callers may request to be placed on your institution's specific do-not-call list. Your institution must honor such requests within a reasonable time, never to exceed 30 days from the date the consumer made the request. A request to be placed on the institution-specific do-not-call list terminates any prior express consent and prohibits your institution from calling the consumer again, regardless of whether the consumer continues to do business with you. An institution must record and document such requests at the time the consumer makes the request and maintain a consumer on its do-not-call list for five years from the time of the request. However, the act of terminating an established business relationship will not prohibit a creditor from contacting a debtor by telephone to the extent that the debt collection call does not constitute a telephone solicitation or include any unsolicited advertisement material. 

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