ActiveProspect served as a sponsor at the DNC Contact Center Compliance TCPA Summit last month in Scottsdale, Arizona. I attended as a representative of ActiveProspect and had the privilege of hearing Will Maxson, the Assistant Director of the Marketing Practices Division at the FTC, speak about marketing regulations in a session entitled “How to Comply with FTC DNC & Robocall Rules.” This provided me with invaluable insight into how the regulators look at business practices.

From the FTC’s perspective, robocalls and unsolicited telemarketing calls are a public menace. That may sound extreme to marketers who use outbound calls in their customer acquisition process, but the fact is the FTC received an average of 17,000 complaints per day this February. At that volume it is easy to understand how enforcement agencies such as the FTC who are responsible for consumer protection see this as a crisis.

So what advice did Will Maxson of the FTC have for businesses? Show your work. Prove that you are one of the “good guys.” This means understanding vicarious liability – businesses are responsible for the practices of their dealers, affiliates, and agencies. Make sure you know what all of your partners are doing, because you can be held accountable for their ill deeds. He also encouraged businesses to document and store every piece of information possible on your leads. This could include IP address, specific disclosure language, what the user saw, and when they saw it.

The TCPA summit offered a unique forum to bring together two groups that occasionally view each other in an adversarial light: the FTC and marketers or compliance analysts. Overall I sensed the businesses represented were heartened by the FTC’s approach to regulation and the directives he gave to avoid issues.

Will Maxson’s advice is every bit as important today as it was back in algebra class: you aren’t always graded on the final answer alone. Even when you get it wrong, you can still get credit for following the correct steps to reach that answer.  

Always show your work.