What is the reassigned numbers database and why it matters to compliance
February 5, 2024
Navigating the ever-changing landscape of contact regulations is challenging for any business conducting telemarketing or text marketing campaigns. Getting it wrong means potential brand damage, or even worse, fines. Being too conservative can mean limiting your reach with people you want to contact. Having a contact compliance solution ensures your ability to maximize your reach while ensuring you stay within the rules.
Contact compliance means more than ensuring someone you’re contact is not on the National Do Not Contact (DNC) Registry. In addition to federal regulations, there are many additional state-level restrictions that must be met. Eleven states have their own state-specific DNC lists with additional prohibitions on contacting wireless numbers for automated and manual calling.
If your organization is using any automated telephone dialing system (ATDS), or has the capacity to be an ATDS, it is imperative you are testing against the FCC Reassigned Numbers Database (RND) before making a call.
What is the Reassigned Numbers Database?
According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), approximately 37 million telephone numbers in the United States are reassigned to new subscribers each year. This means that about 100,000 phone numbers are reassigned every day. The reassignment of phone numbers can happen for a variety of reasons, such as when a customer cancels their service, a customer relocates and elects not to port their number, or when one telecom carrier merges with another.
The reassigned numbers database was created by the FCC and is designed to prevent a consumer from getting unwanted calls intended for someone who previously held their phone number. Telemarketers and companies performing consumer outreach should use the RND to ensure the number they are calling has not been reassigned to a new user or disconnected, regardless of whether they are soliciting prospective new consumers or servicing existing customers.
Since October 2021, phone companies have been required to report permanently disconnected phone numbers to the RND. This service helps paid subscribers ensure they are reaching the intended recipient.
Validating a call with the RND lets you verify a phone number is still valid and provides the date the number was disconnected. If you have a caller’s express written consent on file, it’s important to know if it is still valid before making the call to ensure you have appropriate permission to connect. If the number you are searching for has not been permanently disconnected since consent was provided or if the number has not been permanently disconnected and the date of consent is on or after January 27, 2021, then your organization may be permitted to contact the phone number.
Significance of DNC and Reassigned Numbers Database Violations
Once a consumer has registered their number on the DNC list, whether state or federal, they are protected from receiving unwanted telemarketing calls or texts. Under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), consent to being contacted is tied to the consumer being called, not the phone number, making it essential that businesses performing outbound communications from an ATDS are aware of the reassigned numbers database. It is important to note that these rules only apply to callers using an ATDS for outreach.
When a phone number is reassigned, the previous owner’s consent to receive calls no longer applies to the new holder. Companies that neglect to verify the number’s current owner before initiating contact run the risk of violating the TCPA.
This can lead to hefty fines, ranging from $500 per call to a staggering $1500 if evidence reveals deliberate disregard for the regulations. Companies must implement thorough verification procedures, ensuring their calls reach the intended recipients and avoid costly fines and legal settlements. By prioritizing responsible communication practices, businesses can foster trust and navigate the complexities of reassigned numbers with confidence.
Not only do organizations need to worry about fines and lawsuits, but shareholder value and brand reputation are also at stake when an organization violates the DNC or TCPA. Consumers lose trust in organizations when they feel like their privacy requests are not being met.
In 2020, a plaintiff in a California court sued a banking and financial services company for receiving unwanted collection calls at his mother’s cell phone number that had been reassigned to her from an individual who owed the bank money. That individual had given the bank consent to be called at the reassigned number and the bank argued that the “called party” should be interpreted to mean the person who the bank intended to call rather than the person it actually called. The district court rejected that notion, instructing the jury that the TCPA requires the consent of the current subscriber or the nonsubscriber who is a customary user of the called phone. The jury awarded the plaintiff $500 in statutory damages for each of 189 collection calls, for a grand total of $94,500.
How to protect your organization against compliance fines
Communications to reassigned telephone numbers have given rise to significant TCPA litigation, aggregate damages exposure, and settlements. With the reassigned numbers database, there is now an authoritative method by which businesses can mitigate that risk.
To protect your organization from liability under the TCPA for calls or texts to reassigned numbers, a caller will need to prove three things before every outbound communication:
- The caller is following the appropriate consent rules related to an automatic telephone dialing system, mobile phones, and text messaging
- The caller checked the most up-to-date reassigned numbers database before calling or texting the number
- They caller did not receive a report from the database that the number was permanently disconnected after the date of consent
If that sounds tedious, that is because it is. Gryph for Compliance frees your agents from having to perform tedious tasks all while ensuring they remain fully compliant during every conversation. Our real-time, automated solution delivers a robust, automated solution to help enterprise businesses preemptively eliminate Do Not Call (DNC) and Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) compliance risk across their entire organization.
Start your compliance journey and contact Gryphon today to see how we can help.
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