Telemarketing in Different Countries: What are the Laws and why Should You Care?

When you have everything set for an outbound calling campaign: your staff, equipment, and software, there is something that you need to know before the start. The telemarketing outbound calling regulations which call centers from time to time violate are extremely dangerous activities. It’s dangerous in terms of financial losses, multiple lawsuits, and loss of reputation.

These days, telemarketers face even more legal restrictions but you shouldn’t be discouraged. A modern version of telemarketing doesn’t seek to interrupt people’s day anyway.

Staying within the designated limits will increase your chances to open a genuine conversation with the right people. What are those cold calling laws and limits? Keep reading!

Telemarketing regulations 101: Things you should know

There are different laws in different countries. The US and Canadian call center laws will not be the same as telemarketing guidelines in Europe or VOIP India regulations. Similarly, telemarketing time restrictions in Australia will not be the same in other countries.

This means that you’ll have to research each region before starting a campaign. Whereas the telemarketing legislation of each country has its own peculiarities, they all address pretty much the same areas.

The corresponding call center laws exist in the USA, Canada, Great Britain, the European Union, Australia, India, Pakistan, Israel, etc. Most countries require that telemarketers:

  • comply with the cold calling legislation and register as a telemarketing company;
  • consult the national Do Not Call lists no sooner than 31 days before the start of a campaign. They might be called differently but they do exist in most countries; 
  • have internal Do Not Call lists, too, and add customers to those lists no later than in 14 days prior to the campaign start date;
  • make telemarketing calls to those contacts who have given prior consent (in most cases a written one) to this type of call, especially if calls are made using pre-recorded messages;
  • disclose the purpose of the call, i.e. let people know that this is a telemarketing call, as well as introduce themselves and the company on behalf of which they make a call (including the name of the client for the outsourcer);
  • provide customers with a separate call back number, which they could dial to discuss the purpose of the call or ask the company to add them to the DNC list (the call must be answered by the company representative). It is also allowed to give customers a contact email;
  • maintain records of all the telemarketing campaigns and preserve them up to 3 years.

telemarketing laws review

What happens if you do not comply? Depending on the country, lots of things may happen. You can become a subject of massive fines, nationwide injunctions, disconnection from telecom resources, or even imprisonment if you are a repeat offender.

Therefore, any telemarketing company must adjust to the rules and regulations of the country where they choose to operate. We recommend that you research those restrictions to make sure your call center does not violate legal telemarketing hours or other laws.

To help you make sense of modern call center regulations around the globe and avoid serious risks, we’ve compiled a Complete Guide to Telemarketing Laws and Regulations in different countries. Be sure to check it out!

Telemarketing regulations over the world in 2020-2021 years

When you have everything set for an outbound calling campaign: your staff, equipment, and software, there is something that you need to know before the start.

The telemarketing outbound calling regulations which call centers from time to time violate are extremely dangerous activities. It’s dangerous in terms of financial losses, multiple lawsuits, and loss of reputation.

The latest US telemarketing regulations for outbound campaigns

Telemarketers in the US must comply with FTC, TSR (Telemarketing Sales Rule), FCC (Federal Communications Commission), TCFPA (Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act), TCPA regulations (Telephone Consumer Protection Act), federal and state laws. The regulation also has exceptions for some categories of sellers.

Who must comply with TSR, FCC, and other agencies?

Any companies, businesses, and individuals that work in telemarketing must comply with telemarketing standards and TSR restrictions. For marketers, this is true whether they initiate or receive calls. Acting as a seller of goods and services in an exchange of payment is the subject of the TSR.

It’s also no difference if advanced or low-tech dialing or other equipment is used in initiating telemarketing activity. However, the FCC and FTC have supreme power and cover both interstate and intrastate calling.

Outbound calls outside of the US are also the subject of TSR’s provisions. Some sections of the TSR have exemptions for telemarketer laws. The regulations of your telemarketing activity depend on the type of business you have and the product you sell.

Telemarketing regulations in selling and upselling

In an outbound call, you must disclose the purpose of a call before any sales pitch. You do it clearly, conspicuously, and tell to a customer:

  • The identity of a seller. You must promptly disclose a real name or the fictitious name of state authorities that is registered. All other types of identity will be illegal.

  • The purpose of the call. How you describe or explain the purpose of the call is up to you. It works unless you mislead the customer. For example, it will be untruthful to state that your call is “a courtesy call”.

  • The nature of goods or services. That means, the brief description of items you’re selling;

  • The case of the prize promotion. At the beginning of the call, you must immediately disclose the instructions on how to enter the prize promotion without paying or purchasing any goods.  

You also must disclose the upsell before you offer the product. There are two types of upselling — internal and external. If you sell additional goods in one call, by the same seller in a single telephone call this is an internal upsell.

The external upsell is when you upsell and involve the second transaction in a single telephone call, which involves a second seller that you must identify.

Outbound calls to solicit charitable contributions:

There are two major things you must do, to meet telemarketing compliance and TSR:

1) The identity of the charitable organization on whose behalf the solicitation is being made. Disclose promptly the identity of an agent or telemarketer. If a charitable organization uses a register with a state authority fictitious name, it’s legal to use it instead of a real name.

2) The purpose of the call is to solicit charitable contributions. An agent or telemarketer has to promptly disclose the purpose of the call. How you do it is up to you unless you mislead the customer.

If you make an outbound call as a third party, you must disclose immediately that you call on behalf of a certain organization.

Exemptions from TSR

If you sell investments and your entities include brokers, dealers, transfer agents, municipal securities dealers, municipal securities brokers, government securities brokers, and government securities dealers and futures commission merchants, including brokers, commodity trading advisors, commodity pool operators, leverage transaction merchants, floor brokers, or floor traders.

TSR does not regulate these types of financial investment. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) regulates them. However, this section of telemarketing is covered by the FCC.

In the case of selling business insurance, NAIC regulates your outbound activity (National Association of Insurance Commissioners), The McCarran-Ferguson Act state laws, and TSR to some extent.

B2B outbound calls

The TSR does not cover business-to-business outbound calls, unless they involve retail sales of nondurable office or cleaning supplies, or solicit sales or charitable contributions from/to employees.

Some of the common nondurable supplies include pencils, solvents, copying machine toner, and ink — in short, anything that, when used, is depleted and must be replaced.

The products such as software, copiers, computers, mops, and buckets are considered durable because they can be used again. To make sure that durable products are not covered, examine the federal and state laws on this subject.

The companies that not regulated by FTC and TSR or have regulations to some extent:

  • banks, federal credit unions, and federal savings and loans.
  • common carriers — such as long-distance telephone companies and airlines — when they are engaging in common carrier activity.
  • non-profit organizations — those entities that are not organized to carry on business for their own, or their members’, profit.

Any companies or individuals that work as a third party on the behalf of the organizations listed above must comply with TSR and FTC.

Regulations of pre-recorded messages in the US

In August 2008 FTC adopted amendments for TSR in case of pre-recorded messages. To send the prerecorded messages to the customer or companies, you must have written permission from them.

A written agreement need only contain:

  • unambiguous evidence that a call recipient is willing to receive telephone calls that deliver a pre-recorded message by or on behalf of a specific seller;
  • a phone number to which such messages may be delivered;
  • the call recipient’s signature.
  • Before the consumer agrees, the seller must clearly and conspicuously disclose the consequences of agreeing — namely, that the agreement will result in the seller delivering pre-recorded messages to the consumer via telemarketing calls;
  • The seller may not require, directly or indirectly, that a consumer agree to receive pre recorded message calls as a precondition for purchasing or receiving any good or service; and
  • The seller must give the consumer an opportunity to designate the telephone number to which the calls may be placed.

An example of a written message is here. Written permission from one seller doesn’t permit calling to other sellers. This is the one specific permission for one specific seller.

To be absolutely legal, you need to include a mechanism for adding to the DNC list. Include, customer key press automated or a voice-activated mechanism that will automatically add the number of a person to the Do Not Call list. Failure to do so can cause a lawsuit against your company and money losses.

However, there are some cases in which a telemarketer doesn’t face legal enforcement. Specifically, telemarketers are not restricted by TSR if they:

  • uses technology that ensures abandonment of no more than three percent of all calls answered by a live person, measured over the duration of a single calling campaign, if less than 30 days, or separately over each successive 30-day period or portion thereof that the campaign continues.
  • allows the telephone to ring for 15 seconds or four rings before disconnecting an unanswered call.
  • plays a recorded message stating the name and telephone number of the seller on whose behalf the call was placed whenever a live sales representative is unavailable within two seconds of a live person answering the call.
  • maintains records documenting adherence to the three requirements above.

Agents must absorb at least 97 percent of calls answered by consumers. Exceptions are calls answered by the answering machine, non-working numbers, not answered calls.

Calls that are answered by answering machines are the subject of other concerns. See “Telemarketing Calls That Deliver Pre Recorded Messages.”) There are other regulations that you need to follow. Check this website and sections about pre-recorded messages.

Per calling campaign measures

Telemarketers running a few campaigns simultaneously are not restricted to having more than 3 percent of abandonment rate. Even if one of the campaigns has 6 percent and the other 0.

Telemarketers must eliminate hang-ups, by allowing an unanswered call to ring either four times or for 15 seconds before disconnecting the call. This is crucial, so the customer could speak with the real person, even if he missed 3 or 4 rings (15 seconds).

However, if a customer doesn’t speak with the live representative within 2 seconds, to make the call legal, they must achieve a prerecorded message stating the name of the seller, purpose of the call.

One of the legal issues at this point is the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (47 U.S.C. § 227(link is external)) and FCC regulations at 47 C.F.R. Part 64.1200(link is external).

The FCC and TSR don’t allow a sales pitch in abandonment calls. The prerecorded message must include only the name and phone number of the businesses, entities, or individuals. This message also must contain a phone number, so the customer has an option to put his number to the Do Not Call list.

Telemarketers wishing to avoid lawsuits or complaints with the law must keep records that contain documents with compliance with laws, through all campaigns. TSR (Section 310.5(link is external)).

Payment methods that you can request legally during an outbound campaign.

During an outbound campaign, you’re allowed to request such type of paying:

  • conventional checks that customer writes, signs, and mails;
  • payments by postal mailing order;
  • cash;
  • gift certificates;
  • direct billing (a written bill or statement before having to pay);

Payments method that you cannot request and suspicious:

There are four methods of payment that you cannot request on any legal terms and conditions. Requesting can also cause a lawsuit and penalties. These four illegal methods for the request are:

  • remotely created checks;
  • cash-to-cash transfers;
  • cash reload mechanisms;
  • created payment orders.

Check this section about paying methods you can request legally.

STIR/SHAKEN

The initial purpose of this technology is to eliminate fraud and abuse of citizens of the US, through illegal robocalls. Each month, over 4 billion robocalls reach American citizens, and almost half of them are illegal.

What is the STIR/SHAKEN protocol? Secure Telephony Identity Revisited (STIR) is the technology for setting protocols and digital signatures, which include the information about the calling party. It verifies the signature by terminating the provider.

Secure Handling Asserted Information Using Tokens (SHAKEN) — are standards for providers that regulate and handle signed calls in the network.

There are three levels of attestation under STIR/SHAKEN standards:

  1. “A” or full attestation. This is the highest level when the source of the number is verified and the provider knows the right of the party to use the phone number.

  2. “B” or partial attestation. The provider verified the right of the party to use the phone number, but the source of the call is unknown.

  3. “C” or gateway attestation. The source of the provider is unknown and the right of the party to use this number is not verified.

FCC rules require that every telephone provider that works in the United States or addresses to American citizens, provide the STIR/SHAKEN IP portions on their network by June 30, 2021.

Before this, FCC requires providers to pass the Robocall Mitigation Database procedure. Providers must ensure that they fully implemented STIR/SHAKEN or instituted mitigation programs that prove they’re not involved in illegal robocalls.

Those providers that don’t implement STIR/SHAKEN for robocalls will be illegal.

The latest United Kingdom regulations for outbound campaigns

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), Office of Communication (Ofcom), Telephone Preference Service (TPS), General Data Protection, Regulation (GDPR) regulates the principal base for outbound calls.

The functions of these services are very similar to FTC in the US. However, there are some differences and regulations that separate them. The outbound companies must comply with the legal offices and services before starting an outbound campaign.

Legal issues on making marketing or sales calls

To make outbound calls with the purpose of sales pitch or marketing calls, your company must comply with TPS lists of numbers and outbound calling guidelines listed below. If the number is registered in the TPS list, you can’t call this number, unless you achieve permission to make these calls.

The TPS will warn you at first if you make those calls or report directly to ICO that provide a timely and effective restriction on your activity. The procedure of warning or direct enforcement will depend on customer complaints.

All companies that work overseas or in the United Kingdom must comply with the TPS “Do Not Call” list.

Abandon or Silent calls

Abandon call in the UK is when the connection with the customer is successful but no free agent available at the moment. If customers don’t connect with the agent, they have to achieve a prerecorded message with identifying information about the company. This company also must include a number that gives the option to add the number of a customer to the “Do Not Call” list.

A silent call is a call that person achieves from the telemarketer but was disconnected before the conversation. Sometimes it happens because of technical problems or accidentally.

Silent calls are harmful to vulnerable people with weak mental health. This is also illegal when a person achieves a few silent calls in a row. Customers that spotted these violations, can address them directly to Ofcom. Tel: 020 7981 3000.

Recorded or automated messages

It’s illegal to send these types of messages to customers that don’t give permission. These customers can address ICO. Tel: 0303 123 1113. Web: https://ico.org.uk/concerns/marketing/

Market Research

Although calls with the purpose of market research are not under TPS regulation, they must not violate the rights of the customer. If the person asks the agent to stop calling a particular number, the telemarketer must add this number to the Do Not Call list. If violations continue, customers can address directly the Market Research Society. Tel: 020 7490 4911. Web: www.mrs.org.uk

Overseas calls

Outbound companies from overseas or in the UK must comply with TPS lists. Failure to do so can cause a complaint from customers to ICO.

Debt collection

Debt collection organizations are not obliged to screen the TPS lists, because the purpose of their call is not marketing or sales calls. However, if the collectors ask you the person you don’t know, you can ask them to add your number to the DNC list and never call again. If they violate this, you also need to address it directly to ICO. Tel: 0303 123 1113. Web: https://ico.org.uk/concerns/marketing/

SMS text message

SMS text messages from telemarketers are allowed only with the prior consent of a person. If customers receive an unsolicited SMS, they can report to ICO or forward the message directly to the shortcode 7726. Tel: 0303 123 1113. Web: https://ico.org.uk/make-a-complaint/nuisance-calls-and-messages/spam-texts-and-nuisance-calls/

SMS text alerts

If a landline of a customer has no option to view the message, it can turn into a voice message and bother a person. Local telephone providers fix these issues, to prevent further SMS text alert messages.

Scams

There are many criminals these days that violate any kind of rule to steal money or abuse people. Any kind of illegal attempt or case, has to be reported to the Action Fraud. Tel: 0300 123 2040. Website https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/

If that occurs in Scotland, customers need to address directly to Police Scotland on 101, or Direct Scotland.
Tel: 0808 164 6000. Website https://consumeradvice.scot/

Fee charging services

The official agencies will never contact clients to receive payments, card numbers. If that occurs, customers should report this to Action Fraud. Web: http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/

Reverse Calls

Those people that pick up those phone calls have to pay for the call. Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) do not regulate these cases. Telephone providers handle this type of call.

The latest Australia telemarketing regulations for outbound campaigns

Australia regulated the telemarketing industry with laws and compliance trends, such as the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) section telemarketing, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

The regulation of telemarketing for Australia is almost similar to the United States of America and the United Kingdom. This law partly regulates an outbound telemarketing activity.

To make an outbound telemarketing campaign, you need to comply with the Do Not Call list of Australia. During the calls, telemarketers must promptly identify the name of the agent and the company or organization.

In the case of a third party, telemarketers must identify the company or organization on behalf they’re working. It’s crucial to reveal the purpose of the call, it’s up to you how you do it, as long as you don’t mislead the customer.

If customers ask you to add a number to the DNC list, you must obligate or your activity will be determined as a scam activity.

Pre Recorded Messages

The calls with marketing or selling purposes must comply with the DNC list or personal permission from a person. However, research calls don’t violate the law. Yet, telemarketers must provide a key-press option to request additional details about the call or to contact the operator for adding the number to the DNC list.

The latest Singapore telemarketing regulations for outbound campaigns

The primary laws for telemarketers and compliance industry trends are the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA), Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC), Provisions and Spam Control Act (SCA) Outbound calling campaigns, which must comply with the DNC list.

If a customer adds his number to the DNC list, you can’t call him if you haven’t relations with him and do not sell to the customer the services or products regularly. However, the DNC list not limit such type of communications as:

  • Messages that are part of a market survey or research; 
  • Messages related to charitable or religious causes;
  • Personal messages sent by individuals;
  • Public messages sent by government agencies;
  • Political messages; or
  • Telemarketing calls or messages sent to a business (i.e. B2B).

Telemarketers should avoid sending information to customers that might be suspicious. Telemarketers should avoid requests that include: credit card numbers, bank account numbers, identifying information, and NRIC numbers.

It’s important that you call from an identified call number. For Singapore customers, unknown numbers are suspicious. They can request the verifying of your number from you or from legal institutions.

Robocalls have a place in the case of prior permission from a person or organization (section 36 of the PDPA for the definition of “voice call”).

Final statements

The telemarketing activity is extremely profitable, but you have to comply with the laws of the countries that you wish to call. There are no reasons to risk your money or company in breaking the telemarketing laws. Sometimes financial penalties breach the mark of millions of dollars for these violations.

Voiptime Cloud is a company that provides dialing software for call centers all over the world. It’s easy to launch an outbound campaign with our software in a particular country. Our telemarketing software includes:

Originally published December 20, 2018 11:04:42 AM, updated July 5, 2021

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