FAQ's For Telemarketers:
The Texas Telemarketing Disclosure and Privacy Act of 2001 enabled the Public Utility Commission of Texas to implement a Statewide "Do Not Call" List for residential customers who wish to stop telemarketing calls to their homes. To ensure that electric customers, both residential and business, did not receive unwanted calls regarding their retail electric service, lawmakers created the "Electric No Call" List for Retail Electric Providers (REPs) and telemarketers calling on their behalf. The 2005 Texas Legislative session combined the Statewide "Do Not Call" List and the "Electric No Call" List into one list that enrolls residential, wireless, and business phone numbers. The "Electric No Call" List only enrolls business phone numbers.
The PUC has contracted with Gryphon Networks Corp. to operate and maintain the Texas "No Call Lists" database. Following is a list of frequently asked questions that pertain to telephone solicitation in the state of Texas. Please consult your legal counsel if you have questions regarding whether your company must comply with the Do Not Call statute.
- What is the definition a telephone solicitation?
- Certain definitions under state law will guide compliance. Telemarketers operating in Texas should be aware of the definitions that pertain to telephone solicitation located in the Public Utility Regulatory Act (PURA) as well as the Texas Business and Commerce Code.
A telemarketing call is an unsolicited telephone call made to:
- solicit a sale of a consumer good or service
- solicit an extension of credit for a consumer good or service
- obtain information that may be used to directly solicit a sale of a consumer good or service
Here are additional definitions in PURA and the Business and Commerce Code:
- "Telephone call" means a call or other transmission which is made to or received at a telephone number including a call made by an automated telephone dialing system; and a transmission to a facsimile recording device.
- "Consumer good or service" means property of any kind that is normally used for personal, family, or household purposes. The term does not include a security, as defined by Section 4, The Securities Act (Article 581-4, Vernon's Texas Civil Statutes).
- "Established business relationship" means a prior or existing relationship of a person formed by a voluntary two-way communication between a person and a consumer regardless of whether consideration is exchanged regarding consumer goods or services offered by the person that has not been terminated by either party.
- How do I obtain a copy of the Texas "No Call Lists?"
- Telemarketers can download the list from www.texasnocall.com with payment by a credit card. Telemarketers may also have the list sent to them via CD. A downloadable and printable form is also available for telemarketers paying by check.
- When are the lists published?
- The lists are updated and published quarterly on January 1, April 1, July 1, and October 1.
- How much does it cost?
- Both the Statewide "Do Not Call" List and the "Electric No Call" List are $75 per quarter. A geographically exclusive list from the Texas "No Call Lists" database is also $75 per quarter.
- When must telemarketing companies be in compliance?
- Telemarketers must update their "Do Not Call" lists from the Texas "No Call Lists" database each quarter (January 1, April 1, July 1, and October 1). The first quarterly list was available April 1, 2002. Telemarketers who subscribe to the list have 60 days from the date of the latest quarterly list to update their internal databases, remove customer numbers, and stop calling customers who have registered.
- Who is exempt from complying with the Texas "No Call Lists"?
- The Texas "No Call Lists" apply to companies who are trying to "sell" a consumer good or service over the telephone. Companies are still allowed to solicit over the telephone if:
1. The company has an established business relationship with a customer within the last 12 months
2. The telemarketer is a state licensee (for example: insurance or real estate agents, etc.) and
- The call is not made by an automated telephone dialing system
- The solicitation requires a face-to-face presentation to complete the sales transaction and make payment
- The consumer has not informed the telemarketer that the consumer does not wish to receive telemarketing calls from the telemarketer
- What other types of unsolicited telephone calls are exempt?
- Not all unsolicited telephone calls are telephone solicitations. Many people receive unsolicited telephone calls from organizations that are not engaged in "telephone solicitation" and, as a result, these organizations are not required to comply with the Texas "No Call Lists" rules and regulations. Non-profits or charitable organizations and debt collectors calling about outstanding debt are also except from the law.
- What information will be included in the list?
- Residential telephone numbers provided on the Statewide "Do Not Call" List identify residential consumers who do not wish to receive any telephone solicitation. The "Electric No Call" List includes the telephone number of consumers who do not wish to receive calls from Retail Electric Providers or telemarketers calling on their behalf.
- May telemarketers use the information in the database for other purposes?
- No. When registering to receive one or both of the lists, the registering entity must agree that it will not sell or otherwise transfer the list to any other person or entity for any use whatsoever. The list is being provided solely for the purpose of allowing the telemarketer to comply with Texas law regarding conducting telephone solicitations in Texas.
- How does this law affect calls made by autodialers?
- The Texas "No Call Lists" apply to telephone solicitation calls made by autodialers. Customers who sign up for either list may not receive calls made by autodialers.
- May telephone solicitors block their names and number from Caller ID?
- No. According to the law, telephone solicitors may not block their numbers from Caller ID systems.
- What are the penalties for not complying with the Texas Telemarketing Disclosure and Privacy Act?
- The law permits the PUC to investigate alleged violations and to assess administrative and civil penalties against violators. The PUC has exclusive jurisdiction if the violator is a telecommunications provider. The Attorney General's Office also has jurisdiction to investigate possible violations. Additionally, a state agency that has licensed an alleged violator may conduct investigations and assess any penalties for which it has authorization. The law also creates a private right of action in civil court for a customer that has been damaged through a violation of the statute. The law also specifies the amount of damages the customer may recover.
Please consult your legal counsel if you have questions regarding whether your company must comply with the Do Not Call statute.