HomeBusinessNew Call Center? Avoid These Call Center Compliance Pitfalls

New Call Center? Avoid These Call Center Compliance Pitfalls

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Setting up a new call center might seem straightforward—just get some phones, hire some agents, and start taking calls. However, there is far more to it once you factor in considerations surrounding call center compliance.

Simply put, you can’t just read the rules set out by regulatory bodies like the FCC, FTC, and TCPA and call it a day. Instead, staying compliant requires comprehensive operating procedures, ongoing agent training, extensive documentation, and rigorous quality assurance throughout your call center.

7 Call Center Compliance Pitfalls to Avoid

Regardless of which type of call center you operate, it’s important to steer clear of the many compliance pitfalls that exist. This will save you from headaches in the short term and from potentially derailing your business down the road.

1. Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) – Calls

Explanation: The TCPA aims to limit intrusive telemarketing phone calls by requiring opt-in consent prior to using auto-dialers, prerecorded voice calls, SMS text messages, and faxes. Fines for violations are set at roughly $500 to $1500 per call.

Pitfall: Many new call centers mistakenly believe consent is implied or they fail to document opt-in processes properly. This is not good because unclear, overly broad, or missing consent records can easily lead to lawsuits over unlawful calling.

Solution: Develop clearly worded consent statements and have agents confirm opt-in for your outreach on all campaign calls. Log all consent in individual contact records, keep it for at least four years, and implement processes to remain TCPA compliant by honoring do-not-call requests.

2. Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) – Data

Explanation: In addition to limiting certain types of calls, the TCPA also establishes guidelines around data handling. Under the TCPA, contact lists used for auto-dialing—along with call and text logs—require protection and transparency.

Pitfall: To cut costs, many new call centers fail to implement adequate safeguards and documentation practices around data tied to TCPA-regulated activities, such as text/voice campaigns.

Solution: Properly secure auto-dialer contact lists with encrypted servers, access controls, and network firewalls. Another good practice is to keep complete TCPA consent records for four or more years post opt-in/out.

Once you’ve set up this process, you should hire dedicated staff to document SMS text, ringless voicemail, and robocall data handling protocols. You can then train these agents on crucial practices like confirming SMS opt-in consent prior to messaging.

3. PCI DSS

Explanation: The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) outlines requirements for any business that handles credit card transactions to keep sensitive customer payment information secure. Essentially, the PCI DSS guards against fraud through the mishandling of card data.

Pitfall: Many call centers miss key PCI steps like full-disk encryption, restricted card data access, agent training, and proper deletion protocols once data is no longer needed. Lacking safeguards in these categories can lead to severe non-compliance fines and loss of payment processing abilities.

Solution: Work with a PCI consultant to guarantee that your security infrastructure, policies, and procedures adhere to all standards. You should also make an effort to encrypt all devices that communicate and store card info.

To maintain compliance, it’s critical to implement system access controls, conduct compliance audits, provide ongoing agent education, and document processes in a security policy manual.

4. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

Explanation: HIPAA establishes strict privacy and security standards for protecting sensitive patient health information. This includes medical history, conditions, billing details, insurance data, and more.

Pitfall: Many call centers that serve healthcare clients (and therefore work with PHI) fail to implement HIPAA safeguards like access controls, encryption, breach protocols, business associate agreements (BAAs), and comprehensive agent education.

Solution: Conduct a full HIPAA risk analysis, run a gap assessment, and develop security policies for handling PHI data. It also helps to invest in security tools like encrypted servers, endpoints, and logs. You should also develop clear BAAs when serving covered healthcare entities. Finally, you’ll want to give your agents regular training on handling PHI and have staff dedicated to HIPAA compliance management.

5. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

Explanation: GDPR establishes stringent data privacy and security requirements for personal information of EU citizens. There are significant fines for non-compliance around unlawful data collection/handling and breaches.

Pitfall: Call centers risk violating GDPR by gathering EU customer data without proper consent paperwork, insufficient data access controls and auditing, lack of breach notification processes, or failure to honor data subject rights requests.

Solution: To start, you can update your privacy notice forms to meet GDPR transparency rules surrounding the purpose of data collection/use. You will also want to contract DPO and data protection officer roles. Once you have these roles in place, you should work to develop robust consent management, disposal, and breach disclosure procedures.

6. Do Not Call (DNC) Registry

Explanation: The DNC registry allows consumers to opt out of receiving telemarketing calls. In general, call centers must scrub contact lists against the registry at least every 31 days and drop all registered numbers. There are exceptions around existing business relationships, however.

Pitfall: Neglecting to check and filter out DNC-registered contacts opens the doors to major TCPA violations and lawsuits. Additionally, failing to keep clear documentation around existing customer relationships risks non-compliance fees.

Solution: Run your entire contact database against the latest DNC registry every 31 days without fail. Clearly document customer relationship start dates, purchases, and communications in CRM records. Keep in mind that some of the best VoIP providers allow you to set system rules to drop DNC-registered numbers automatically.

7. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)

Explanation: The FDCPA governs debt collection communications and actions, protecting consumers against harassment and deception while repaying debts. There are strict rules around call times, call frequencies, agent conduct, validation notices, and more.

Pitfall: Debt collection call centers often run afoul of FDCPA by lacking oversight into overcalling customers, publishing repayment details via public phone messages, failing to provide proper written validation notices, or letting abusive agent behavior slide.

Solution: Institute call attempt limits based on FDCPA guidance, provide rigorous agent etiquette training, send template validation letters to consumers soon after first contact, and confirm receipt of disputes in writing within 30 days. It also helps to keep an attorney on retainer to consult on legally sound workflows.

Managers and Agents: Compliance Within Your Call Center

Don’t forget that the people responsible for ensuring compliance on a day-to-day basis are your call center’s managers and agents. Without quality call center management, your call center can easily fall prey to the consequences of noncompliance.

To avoid any unwanted violations, your managers must institute guardrails around internal compliance by doing the following:

  • Scripting calls
  • Instituting call recording consent processes
  • Keeping meticulous documentation protocols
  • Monitoring for overcalling
  • Handling sensitive data access carefully
  • Enacting serious training/retraining procedures for policy violators

What Happens if You Don’t Meet Call Center Compliance Requirements?

Falling short of the legal standards outlined above can carry heavy financial and operational penalties. Put plainly, non-compliance is a non-negotiable if you want your call center to stay in business.

Depending on the severity and repeat nature of violations, fines can reach up to $16,000 per infraction of laws like TCPA, HIPAA, and PCI DSS. Beyond dealing with hefty fines, being out of compliance can tank consumer trust, lead to revoked licenses to process payments, open your business up to expensive lawsuits, and ultimately cause long-term reputational harm.

While these regulations may feel complex and tedious, non-compliance can hurt your call center in more ways than just being complicated and annoying. At the end of the day, it’s much better to remain compliant than to waste money, limit your growth capabilities, and destroy your credibility with customers and partners.

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