What is the National Do Not Call Registry?
The National Do Not Call Registry is a list of phone numbers from consumers who have registered their phone numbers on a federal list because they do not want to be called by sales persons or telemarketers. The registry is managed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and is enforced by the FTC, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
The federal government’s DO NOT CALL (DNC) laws were enacted to regulate sales calls and telemarketing to consumers. For mortgage originators, it’s important to note that the laws see no difference between a salesperson selling aluminum siding and a mortgage broker contacting a potential customer. All for-profit businesses selling to consumers are subject to the rules, regulations, and fines. Consumers who wish to be on the DNC list can easily do so free of charge. If the consumer has not initiated the call to your company or has not given explicit (in writing) permission for you to call them and it turns out they are on the DNC list, you can get fined for every phone call you make to that consumer. A consumer on the DNC list can report a company who has called them very easily either online or via a toll-free number.
The fine is $11,000 per telephone call. If you make 10 calls to a consumer on the DNC list, you can be fined $111,000. If you make 10 calls to 10 people on the DNC list, you can be fined $1,110,000.
Yes. Consumers can also list their cell phones on the DNC list, free of charge.
Absolutely not. The law is clear and sees no difference between a typical telemarketer and a mortgage broker. Exempt Organizations include charities or non-profit organizations, organizations engaged in political solicitations or surveys, or sellers or telemarketers that call only consumers with whom they have an established business relationship or from whom they have written permission to call. All for-profit businesses are required to follow the guidelines specified within the DNC laws.
First, you must have explicit (in writing) permission from a consumer to pick up the phone and call them if they are on the DNC list. Second, you must get a Subscription Account Number or SAN from the government. Third, you must have a system in place that checks to make sure that the number you are about to call has not been added to the DNC list in the past month. Last, you have to be able to show that in addition to having a SAN and a system in place that checks to insure that the consumers you are calling are not on the DNC list, that you also have – in writing – a DNC compliance policy that you’ve trained your employees on.
If you have a clearly documented business relationship with a consumer, you may call them for up to 18 months after the consumer's last purchase, delivery, or payment - even if the consumer is listed on the DNC list. You may also call a consumer for up to three months after the consumer makes a direct inquiry or submits an application directly to the company. If you have explicit (written) permission directly from the consumer, you may call even if the consumer's number is on the DNC list. However, if the consumer asks you not to call, you must abide by their wishes and place them on your company’s internal DNC list even if there is an established business relationship.
A SAN is a Subscription Account Number from the federal government. As of January 1, 2005, all for-profit businesses making calls to consumers are required by law to register for a SAN. Your SAN gives you access to search the DNC database. You are required to search the federal government’s DNC list at least once every 31 days and remove consumers who have registered from your call lists.
The federal government charges an annual fee based on the number of area codes you are checking. The first 5 area codes are free. For each additional area code, the annual fee is $62 per area code. The maximum annual fee is $17,050 for the entire United States database.
You can be liable for an $11,000 fine for every call you make even to consumers who are NOT on the DNC list! The government requires that you have a SAN number and check every call you make against the DNC registry. It’s against the law to make a call without checking the number first.
Yes. If an area code “splits” into another area code, which may happen in densely populated or growing regions, you will be required to subscribe to the new area code if you wish to continue calling. If you already pay the maximum fee to subscribe to the national list, you will not need to pay an additional fee.
Yes. Making calls to people you have an “implied” or third party relationship is not acceptable under DNC laws. You must proactively check every call you make against the federal DNC list.
No. The lead generator or list broker is not at fault for selling you leads containing consumers on the DNC list. If caught, you get the fine. Lead generators will tell you you’re protected if the consumer gives permission for a lender “on their network” to call. It’s not. The laws clearly state a consumer must give permission for a specific lender to call.
Mistakes happen and you’re protected under the Safe Harbor if you can prove a call was placed in error. If you unintentionally call someone that you shouldn’t have, you must back up your claim of error by demonstrating that you meet all the requirements of the DNC rules and regulations. You must also have an audit system in place and a trail of evidence clearly showing your call was made in error.