If you’re like most sales and marketing executives, you probably have questions about the new Florida telemarketing law. Who is covered by it? What kinds of restrictions does it place on sales and marketing efforts? The rules and regulations in this area can be confusing — even overwhelming.
Don’t worry — you’ve come to the right place. This article will guide you through the new Florida state telemarketing law and explain how it might impact your business. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about the latest telemarketing guidelines.
What Is the New Legislation?
In the summer of 2021, Florida’s state legislature passed a new law that overhauled the state’s existing laws on telephone solicitation (also known as telemarketing). The new law, which took effect on July 1, will impact any organizations that do business in Florida. Even companies that are based out of state may be impacted if they contact Florida residents for marketing or sales purposes.
What Were Florida’s Telemarketing Laws Like Before?
Florida already had two laws that set restrictions on telemarketing. Those laws — the Florida Telemarketing Act and the Florida Do Not Call Act — both come under the purview of the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
How Does the Florida Telemarketing Act Work?
The Florida Telemarketing Act regulates licensing for anyone who uses the telephone to solicit Florida residents. Businesses and individuals who carry out telephone solicitation are required to have licenses to operate.
When you apply for licensing, you’ll be asked to provide the following information:
- Any past or current criminal, civil, or administrative disciplinary actions
- A list of the phone numbers that will be used for making telemarketing calls
- The call center address (or addresses)
- The scripts that callers will use when making calls
- Collateral in the form of a bond, letter of credit, or certificate of deposit to be used in the event of fraud, breach of contract, financial failure, or violation
The Florida Telemarketing Act also imposes a series of restrictions on telephone solicitations. Those include:
- Limiting the hours when telemarketing is permitted. Calls may be made from 8 a.m. until 9 p.m.
- Requiring callers to identify themselves within 30 seconds of the beginning of the call.
- Keeping records of every person contacted by the business. Records must be kept for at least two years and must include names and phone numbers.
How Does the Florida Do Not Call Act Work?
Along with the Florida Telemarketing Act, the Florida Do Not Call Act places restrictions on how telephone solicitations may be carried out in the state.
As its name suggests, the act sets out the rules behind the Do Not Call list. Florida residents may place their home numbers on the list, along with their cell phone numbers or pager numbers.
Once names are on the list, businesses may not call those phone numbers or send text messages or direct-to-voicemail transmissions. They are also barred from using automatic dialers that play a recorded message when the consumer picks up the phone. Businesses may not “spoof” or disguise their phone numbers when making phone calls.
Violations of the rules will incur fines of up to $10,000, as well as possible additional penalties.
There are several exceptions to the rule — certain organizations may call people on the Do Not Call list. Permitted call types include:
- Fundraising calls from nonprofit organizations
- Research calls and opinion surveys
- Debt collection
What Does the New Law Change?
The new law builds on the state’s existing laws on telephone solicitation. It comes with some striking changes, both to the regulations themselves and the way that they are enforced.
Changes to Enforcement
The new law contains a provision known as a private right of action.
A private right of action means that any individual may bring legal action against a business to seek compensation for alleged injuries caused by a violation of the law. Private citizens may bring actions in response to violations of the autodialer provisions of the law, and they may bring actions in response to certain other provisions of the new and existing laws.
The law also imposes fines and other penalties for violations. Those penalties distinguish between simple “violations” and “willful violations.” Businesses will be fined up to $500 per violation and up to $1,500 per willful violation.
Telemarketers who use spoofed numbers are now liable to be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor.
Changes to Regulations
The most striking change to the law is in its updated autodialer provisions.
The new regulations require callers to have the consumer’s prior consent for most uses of autodialers. Be aware that the law does not clearly spell out exactly what it means by “autodialer.”
Do all forms of dialing technology count as autodialers? The law is not very clear in this respect, but it appears likely that anything resembling automatic dialing technology may be treated as an autodialer for legal purposes.
In part, the bill requires “all sales telephone calls, text messages, and direct-to-voicemail transmissions to have the receiving consumer’s prior express written consent if the call will be made using an automated machine to dial the recipient’s phone number, or will play a recorded message upon connection with the recipient.”
The new law also changes the permitted call times for telemarketers contacting consumers. Under the new regulations, telemarketers may contact consumers only between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. (Previously, the call time extended to 9 p.m.)
Moreover, the new regulations forbid telemarketers from calling the same person more than three times in a 24-hour period, unless they are calling about different issues.
To this end, the law includes a specific definition of what a “called party” is: the person who regularly uses the phone number that the telemarketer is calling.
Updates to the Do Not Call Regulations
Anyone conducting marketing or sales by telephone in Florida must register as a telemarketer. Businesses and individuals who are not based in Florida will still need to register if they are making calls to people living in the state.
Businesses that call Florida residents are also responsible for obtaining a copy of the Florida Do Not Call list. Likewise, they are responsible for keeping up with all the updates to that list. (It is updated every quarter.)
Advice for Sales and Marketing Executives
Now that you’ve learned more about how the new law works, you may be wondering how you should respond to it. Here are some tips and best practices for any individuals and businesses that call Florida residents on a regular basis.
Remember to Register
If you make sales or marketing calls to Florida residents, you are required to register as a telemarketer. (This also applies if any members of your staff call Florida residents.) You are also required to obtain a copy of the state’s Do Not Call list, refrain from calling anyone on the list, and make sure you stay current with the list, which is updated quarterly.
Watch Out for Predators
Bear in mind that there are some predatory individuals who appear to actively seek out chances to bring lawsuits. Exercise caution and make sure you remove all possible predators from your call lists. With the new regulations in place, it is unfortunately very likely that some predators are looking for a chance to bring legal action.
Always Get Consent
The new regulations specify that all telemarketers in Florida must get explicit, written consent from their consumers. You need to be prepared to get consent and keep excellent records so you can prove that consent was given.
Seek Expert Advice
The rules and regulations about telemarketing are changing rapidly. If you do business in more than one state, it can feel almost impossible to keep track of all the different legislation around telephone solicitations. Even if you exclusively do business in Florida, it can be difficult to maintain compliance. As you have seen, the regulations are not always clear, and the language can be confusing.
The experts at Aktify can help you to improve just about every aspect of your sales. Aktify uses data science and machine learning to improve your marketing and your sales figures. Every customer, and every business, is unique — and Aktify prides itself in coming up with a tailored solution for every client.
Visit today to learn what Aktify can do to grow your business and boost your bottom line.