New school owners and college and university directors may not be aware of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. Under the act, unsolicited telemarketing calls made using Autodialed and/or, Robocalls, as well as SMS Text messages will now require prior express written consent from each consumer you contact though these means as of October 16th 2013. Simply having an established business relationship no longer exempts your school from the written consent requirements. Calls that are manually dialed and do not contain a pre-recorded message are exempt from the TCPA’s new requirements.

Failure to comply with the TCPA could make your school a target of government and private litigants. The TCPA provides for either actual damages or statutory damages ranging from $500.00 to $1,500.00 per unsolicited call/message. In determining the final amount of statutory damages to award, courts analyze whether the defendant “willfully” or “knowingly” violated the TCPA.  Considering that telemarketing campaigns often involve hundreds to thousands of calls, potential damages under the TCPA can be quite high.

Schools using third party lead generating services as well as those who rely on leads generated through their own website should review their policies for compliance with the new TCPA rules, specifically to ensure that their website contains the necessary voluntary consent language.