Understanding Compliance Obligations of Calling Cell Phones in Legal Collections

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Ranjan Dharmaraja

Ranjan Dharmaraja

Legal collections provides its own set of unique complexities and challenges. Recent changes to the TCPA and a heightened focus on regulatory issues facing the debt collection industry make it more important than ever for collection agencies and collection law firms in particular to have policies and operational procedures in place to ensure compliance with these recent changes to the TCPA.  While we need to focus on this challenge at hand, it is not enough to merely create the policies.  Careful thought to effectively implement and train to the policies is critical to ensure compliance.

But sometimes, training and implementation is not enough.  Humans are, well…, humans; and as humans they are fallible beings.  Ensuring total compliance with the TCPA as well as state and local rules for telephone numbers, work numbers and cell phone numbers must be managed with technology to ensure collectors cannot violate the policies set forth by the agency or law firm.

Recent regulations have been issued, but this will not be the final word on cell phones.  While federal regulators may set forth specific regulations, state regulators and even municipalities may also introduce their own regulations.  Furthermore, your clients placing accounts with you for collections may also have individual SOP’s you are required to follow that go beyond regulatory requirements.  So with all of these conflicting regulations and policies, how in the world can anyone manage calling rules to a level of 100% compliance?

The answer is that it takes a collection system that is intelligent, and built on a platform that incorporates artificial intelligence technology capable of processing multiple levels of rules, policies and regulations.

With the Receivables Management System from Quantrax, the process is simple and straightforward.  First, you need to start by accurately identifying cell phones and land lines.

  • We have access to cell phone data bases (cell block and ported numbers)
  • This information can be used do an initial scrub of all phone numbers on the system
  • Ported number data can be used to update phone numbers based on recent changes

When accounts are worked and new numbers are obtained, it is important that new information is scrubbed in real-time. Why? What if a consumer gives you a cell number when they are asked for their home number? What should happen?

  • We notify the agent that the number entered in the home phone is a cell phone
  • The agent reviews this with the consumer and moves the number into the cell phone field
  • The system asks the agent to confirm that they have permission to call the cell phone
  • Agent confirms this and the account is notated that permission to call the cell phone was obtained

These simple steps make sure that important compliance guidelines are followed.

What about working accounts with cell phones? The following features help manage this important area.

  • Accounts with cell phones can be separated from accounts without cell phones
  • There is a field to indicate that permission was obtained to call a cell phone
  • You can stop cell phones from being called through predictive campaigns
  • Any calls to a cell phone (even preview dialing) can be stopped
  • The number of calls to a cell phone can be limited based on rules set up for the day or different periods of time
  • Calls to a cell phone can be routed though the PBX – this will be documented and it can be proved that the call was not made by an “automated dialer”

Good cell phone management in collections is complex. With good design, we believe that that the process can be user-friendly, simple and effective. This is important in an area that has the potential for expensive litigation and future regulation.


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