At ReminderCall.com, we strive to help our customers follow all automated call laws. These apply to automated text messages too. ReminderCall.com appointment reminders are generally permitted by federal and state laws. But, if you are sending other information, there are several other laws to consider. Plus, if you are a healthcare provider, HIPAA kicks in. It can get quite confusing.
Which Automated Call Laws Apply?
Laws that govern automated calls and text messages are:
- HIPAA Rules (For Healthcare Providers)
- The FCC’s TCPA
- The FTC’s Do-Not-Call Registry
- State Laws
Federal Automated Call Laws
While Reminder Services, Inc. cannot provide legal advice, it is important to notify you of any laws that may affect you. Below is a summary of the different automated call laws. Automated text messages are generally covered by these laws too. This article should be a starting point for your individual research. It is not a full analysis. If you need further guidance, you should consult with an attorney versed in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).
If you are a healthcare provider, HIPAA gives you special consideration. Appointment reminders contribute to the ongoing treatment of an individual. So, you can send them without prior authorization (unless they are going to a cell phone). Appointment reminders that could result in a sale do not qualify. For example, a paid flu-shot clinic results in a sale. You must get prior permission to send those types of automated calls and text messages. All other TCPA rules still apply.
Furthermore, HIPAA allows you to leave automated messages for patients on their answering machines. You must accommodate patient communication preferences whenever reasonable. For example, a request to receive calls at the office and not at home is reasonable. It is a request that would help protect the patient’s privacy.
HIPAA requires that you keep Protected Health Information (PHI) secure. So an encrypted, HIPAA-compliant system should send any automated calls or text messages. All third-party contractors that receive PHI should sign a Business Associate Agreement. They should keep all data in secure facilities. For these reasons, common sense dictates that PHI should not go offshore if possible. Luckily, ReminderCall.com goes to great lengths to keep you HIPAA Compliant at all times.
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)
The TCPA allows automated calls and text messages, but there are rules to follow:
- You must get permission to send automated calls or text messages to a cell phone.
- You may not call or text residences before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., local time.
- You must maintain a “do-not-call” (DNC) list of customers who do not want automated messages.
- You must honor a DNC request for 5 years.
- You must state your name and phone number.
- You must not send automated messages to an emergency line (e.g., “911”).
- You cannot send automated messages that would tie up two or more lines of a business.
It’s important to understand when you need permission to send automated messages. Typically, if you are not a healthcare provider you must ask customers to opt in to receive your messages. And, if you send messages that can result in a sale, you also need that opt in. Luckily, our Secure Opt-In Portal makes it easy for your customers to opt into your messages.
The National Do-Not-Call (DNC) Registry
As we’ve seen, the FCC requires you to maintain and respect an internal Do-Not-Call list of clients. These are customers who do not wish to receive automated calls or text messages from you. If you are a ReminderCall.com customer, we maintain that for you. So how is that different from the National Do-Not-Call Registry?
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) maintains the National Do-Not-Call Registry. It’s a list of consumers who do not want any marketing or sales calls or texts. Rules state that you may not send marketing or sales messages to numbers on the Do-Not-Call Registry.
So, you may NOT contact numbers on the Do-Not-Call Registry for sales or marketing. But, the Do-Not-Call Registry does not ban informational messages. Automated appointment reminders are allowed. So are informational from charities, political groups, and (in some cases) debt collectors.
There is only one DNC Registry for land lines and cell phones. A telephone number stays on the Do-Not-Call Registry until someone removes it or cancels the number. For more information, please visit donotcall.gov.
Some states have laws about automated phone calls and text messages. Most of the time, these laws reiterate the TCPA but add more detail. For example, state laws will usually define what makes up an automated dialing system. Also, state laws will go into what the local penalties are for breaking the rules. Some states do have some pretty unique laws, so it’s worthwhile to take a look at what your state’s legislature says.
When there are both state and federal laws that apply to one case, judges tend to enforce the stricter of the two. For more information, we’ve compiled a list of resources and links for you to research your state’s automated call laws.
Here at Reminder Services, Inc., we help our customers follow automated call laws. We give you an online secure opt-in portal to make getting opt-ins easy. We maintain and honor your do-not-call list for you. We keep all data in local, HIPAA-compliant, high-security facilities. We encrypt all data and purge it as soon as possible. To see if our system works for you, find out more about our trial.
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