Do you know what the FTC stands for? What about the FCC? The DNC? Or the TCPA?

These are acronyms that your business MUST be familiar with.

The FTC is the Federal Trade Commission and its mission is to “to prevent business practices that are anticompetitive or deceptive or unfair to consumers; to enhance informed consumer choice and public understanding of the competitive process; and to accomplish this without unduly burdening legitimate business activity.” The FTC, in relevant part, regulates telemarketing and commercial email.

The FCC is the Federal Communications Commission, and it regulates telemarketing. Its regulations also allow for consumers to bring their own action.

The TCPA stands for the Telephone Consumer Protection Act – which was signed into law in 1991 and is regulated and enforced by the FCC. It specifies the rules for telemarketers, including what is required when calling a wireless device or residence.

The DNC is the “Do Not Call” list. It’s a list that organizations maintain to enforce a consumers request to be removed from marketing efforts.

So why should you care about these terms?

Because the regulators and consumer rights attorneys are cracking down, and you could be one communication away from an expensive class action lawsuit or even bankruptcy.

Companies have paid millions of dollars in civil penalties to the FTC for not acknowledging things like a customer’s request to be put on a company-specific DNC list or for transmitting deceptive Caller ID names. It is imperative that you honor your customer requests and only present the correct information on all occasions.

When it comes to direct mail, ask is the advertisement true? And can you prove it? Watch out for superlatives. Make sure you present clear and conspicuous disclosures -and in some cases special disclosures may even be required. Be careful with “free” and sweepstakes or giveaways. And remember – with direct mail it’s important to become friends with the asterisk to help consumers find the disclosures of material terms related to the offer.

Email Advertisements should not have false or misleading header information and should identify the message as an advertisement. Tell recipients where you’re located and how they can opt out if they so desire. You must honor the opt out requests promptly. And as always – monitor what others are doing on your behalf. If you fail to do any of these things you may have a CAN-SPAM problem—and be fined up to $16,000 for EACH non-compliant email.

And note: there is a new rule! You must obtain prior express WRITTEN consent to make certain communications to wireless devices and prerecorded calls to a residence.

Now there is a new technology that the law is just now catching up with: Mobile apps. This channel makes it easier to get express permission. Make sure your mobile app is applying best practices by providing accurate terms and conditions. .

Know the law or hire someone who does. Use respectable vendors that also watch out for changes in the law. Join industry trade associations and other groups. Know your state regulators and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Review your insurance policies. Are you protected from advertising injury? Why not?

*The information provided herein is for educational and informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Readers should always obtain the advice of independent legal counsel related to state and federal law applications to specific and unique circumstances.

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