The Do-Not-Call list was created by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to give consumers a choice about receiving telemarketing calls. As a real estate agent, it’s important to know the rules around calling individuals on the Do-Not-Call registry to avoid hefty fines. Here’s what real estate agents need to know:
What is the Do-Not-Call List?
The National Do-Not-Call Registry allows consumers to opt-out of receiving telemarketing calls. By registering their phone numbers, consumers can reduce the number of unwanted telemarketing calls they receive.
The Do-Not-Call list was established under the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) to protect consumers from intrusive unsolicited calls. The registry applies to all telemarketers with some exceptions.
Do the Rules Apply to Real Estate Agents?
The Do-Not-Call regulations apply to real estate agents if they are “telemarketing.” The FTC defines telemarketing as “a plan, program, or campaign which is conducted to induce the purchase of goods or services by use of one or more telephones.”
So if you are contacting leads or past clients to promote your services, properties, or simply follow up, you are likely telemarketing and must abide by the Do-Not-Call rules.
What are the Rules and Restrictions?
As a real estate agent, you cannot initiate contact with numbers on the Do-Not-Call list, with the following exceptions:
- Established Business Relationship: You have conducted business with the consumer in the past 18 months.
- Tax-Exempt Non-Profit Organization: Certain non-profit organizations are exempt.
- Prior Express Written Consent: The consumer has provided you with permission to call, usually in writing.
In addition, you must:
- Maintain an internal Do-Not-Call list. Consumers can request to be added to your list to opt-out of future calls.
- Limit calls to between 8am-9pm. No calling outside of these hours in the consumer’s time zone.
- Provide your name and contact info. At the beginning of the call, you must provide your real estate company’s name and contact information.
Are There Penalties for Violations?
Yes, failing to comply with the Do-Not-Call regulations can result in significant financial penalties:
- Up to $43,792 per violation
- Up to $43,792 per call for willful violations
- Injunctive relief may also be sought
It’s important real estate agents establish clear policies and procedures to comply with the Do-Not-Call rules. This includes regular scrubbing of lead lists against the registry, implementing opt-out requests timely, and training staff on compliance.
Following the telemarketing rules will help real estate professionals build trust and strong relationships with clients. It also avoids costly penalties that can damage your reputation. Be sure to consult the FTC’s website and resources to stay up-to-date on the rules.