On April 6, 2023, the Washington State Attorney General released a statement announcing a new state-level TCPA law intended to enhance consumer protections by modifying regulations related to telemarketing activities, with a focus on illegal robocalls. This article offers a brief overview of the law, its effects, and the obligations it imposes on companies and consumers in Washington State.
Key Provisions and Updates in the New TCPA Law
Enhanced Do-Not-Call List Protections
The new mini TCPA law strengthens Washington's existing Do-Not-Call (DNC) list protections, to better ensure that consumers who have opted out of telemarketing calls receive fewer unwanted calls. Companies and any telemarketing organizations they employ are now required to update their DNC lists more frequently under the new Washington law, reducing the chances of accidentally contacting individuals who have opted out.
Stricter Penalties for Violators of the TCPA Law
The Washington mini TCPA legislation imposes stricter penalties on companies and telemarketers who violate the new regulations. Fines for noncompliance can reach up to $2,000 per violation, with additional penalties for repeat offenders. These enhanced penalties are intended to serve as a strong deterrent to encourage companies to avoid unlawful telemarketing practices.
Caller ID Transparency
To promote transparency and accountability, the new law mandates that callers use accurate caller ID information. This requirement specifically targets spoofing practices that enable callers to disguise their true phone numbers to deceive consumers into answering unwanted calls.
The new Washington legislation addresses the growing issue of illegal robocalls by requiring companies to obtain written consent from consumers before using automated dialing systems, a requirement that mirrors the federal TCPA. This consent can be revoked at any time, giving individuals more control over the communications they receive.
Responsibilities of Sellers and Telemarketers Under the New Mini TCPA Law
Sellers and telemarketer companies operating in Washington State must adhere to the following requirements under the new legislation:
- Maintain Accurate DNC Lists: Companies must update their DNC lists frequently, ensuring that they are not contacting individuals who have opted out of receiving such calls.
- Obtain Written Consent for Pre-Recorded Calls: Companies must obtain written consent from consumers before using automated dialing systems for telemarketing purposes.
- Provide Accurate Caller ID Information: Companies are required to display accurate caller ID information, preventing deceptive practices and promoting transparency.
- Comply with Penalties: Companies must comply with the penalties imposed by the new law, including fines and additional consequences for repeat offenders.
Which states have mini-TCPA laws?
Several states in the United States have enacted mini-TCPA laws to further regulate telemarketing activities within their jurisdictions. These laws often provide additional protections, restrictions, or requirements that go beyond the federal TCPA regulations. Some states with mini-TCPA laws include:
- New Jersey
Please note that this list is not exhaustive, and regulations may change over time. Always consult with an attorney or regulatory expert to determine the current laws applicable to your situation.
What is the Washington Mini-TCPA law?
The Washington Mini-TCPA law, also known as the Washington Automatic Dialing and Announcing Device (ADAD) statute, is a state-level regulation that governs telemarketing activities within Washington State. This law closely mirrors the federal TCPA but adds specific provisions that apply to calls made within the state. Some of the key provisions of the Washington Mini-TCPA law include:
- Prohibiting the use of automatic dialing and announcing devices (ADAD) to make unsolicited commercial calls without prior express consent from the recipient.
- Requiring that commercial calls using an ADAD contain a clear disclosure of the caller's identity and purpose at the beginning of the call.
- Mandating that the caller provide a toll-free number or local number that consumers can call to request not to be called again.
- Imposing penalties for violations, including fines of up to $500 per violation.
What is the Washington Commercial Telephone Solicitation Act?
The Washington Commercial Telephone Solicitation Act is another state-level regulation that governs telemarketing activities in Washington State. This law is designed to protect consumers from unwanted commercial calls by requiring telemarketers to register with the state and adhere to specific rules when making calls. Some of the main provisions of the Washington Commercial Telephone Solicitation Act include:
- Requiring commercial telemarketers to register with the Washington State Department of Licensing before conducting telemarketing activities within the state.
- Establishing a "Do Not Call" list for Washington residents who do not wish to receive unsolicited commercial calls. Telemarketers are required to honor this list and refrain from calling any numbers included on it.
- Mandating that commercial telemarketer clearly identify themselves, their company, and the purpose of the call at the beginning of each call.
- Prohibiting the use of deceptive or misleading practices during telemarketing calls.
Both the Washington Mini-TCPA law and the Washington Commercial Telephone Solicitation Act are state-level regulations designed to protect consumers from unwanted commercial calls and ensure ethical telemarketing practices within Washington State. These laws supplement the federal TCPA, providing additional consumer protections and requirements for telemarketers operating in the state. It is essential for businesses engaging in telemarketing activities to understand and comply with all applicable federal and state laws to avoid penalties and protect consumer rights.
A clear understanding of the key provisions of Washington state's new mini TCPA law, the obligations it imposes on callers, and the rights it confers to consumers, is an essential precursor to any marketing efforts directed to the Evergreen State, and a good way to avoid a regulatory enforcement action brought by the Washington Attorney general or a lawsuit based on alleged violations.
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