For many years, the relationship an organization had with a person was sufficient to serve as “consent” for receiving automated calls/messages for both emergency and non-emergency purposes.

In the fall of 2013, the FCC began re-evaluating this implied consent standard in regards to cell phone calls/messages; which led to the passing of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) at the end of 2015. The implied consent standard still applies to calls made to landlines. Calls/messages to cell phones, however, now technically require specific consent – EXCEPT for emergency situations.  The definition for “Emergency Situations” is fairly ambiguous.

Furthermore, many people no longer have home phone landlines and simply use their cell phones for all types of communication.  In fact, many organizations do not even know if the number a person has provided for contact purposes is a landline or a cell phone.  This creates an almost impossible standard to meet and an undue burden in trying to reach recipients in “good faith” for legitimate informational and safety reasons.

Strictly interpreting these consent provisions can severely hinder an organization from providing the quality services

What Organizations Are Doing Now:

  1. Many organizations include language on their contact forms that tell their recipients they may be contacted at the phone numbers they provide at orientation for various legitimate informational and emergency purposes.  If you would like to send us samples of your contact forms, we’ll be happy to review the language you currently are using.
  2. If someone does not want to be contacted except for emergencies at a specific number, they can mark those phone numbers as “Emergency Only”.  Only alerts you/your senders identify as an “Emergency” will be sent to those phone numbers (landline or mobile).
  3. Every recipient can directly access our online dashboards to update contact information and communication preferences. All of our dashboards are available at any time, 24/7/365. They can log-in, make any desired changes in their contact phone numbers and messaging preferences, and those changes will apply immediately.
  4. For organizations that want to be on the very conservative side of these FCC guidelines, and if their contact forms do not contain language that can serve as gaining consent, a special form for just this purpose can be sent to contacts to get their specific, written consent.
  5. As long as messages are for legitimate, non-commercial purposes – most organizations are continuing to use our rapid notification software as they have for years.

What Next:

If you want to take a very conservative position regarding this issue – you can suspend sending any more non-emergency messages until you get their written consent.

You can also send voice calls JUST to home phones/landlines – that is an option you can select when creating your voice alert.  This then only sends your message to phone numbers marked as home phone numbers/landlines – not numbers marked as cell phones – ensuring you are completely in compliance with a conservative approach to this matter.

Whatever route you choose, we are here to help you maneuver through it smoothly. Please do not hesitate to contact our support team and/or your account manager with any questions you may have.

It is our joy and honor to serve you.

HGS Support Team