Keeping Up With Compliance
By Noreen Kaminski, Vice President, Government Affairs/Legislative Compliance, DialAmerica
As I attend trade shows across the country, I find that many people get nervous when the conversation turns to compliance. What can they do to maintain their company's reputation and avoid getting cited? How should their compliance team or department be structured? What should they be doing to stay on top of things? Where do they start?
Every marketing services organization needs to understand that effective compliance depends upon two pillars of knowledge. First, you need to fully understand the state and federal regulations affecting YOUR industry; and second, you need to be an expert on the laws, the terminology and compliance requirements of YOUR CLIENTS' industries - i.e. the banking, pharmaceutical and online sectors you serve.
Today almost all companies are facing closer scrutiny by federal and state governments. Some are being slapped with heavy fines for regulatory infringements. You have no choice but to maintain a comprehensive, vigilant compliance program.
In the teleservices business, we constantly cleanse our lists and improve our security - all with the goal of remaining fully compliant. Over the years at DialAmerica, we've learned that it pays to work closely with the FTC, FCC and other federal authorities to ensure that we are never cited for a compliance problem. Equally important is having a good relationship and open dialogue with the various state agencies to better understand the state laws governing telemarketing. The more we can work together, the easier it is to be compliant in today's dynamic marketplace!
Some of the tips I offer people with compliance 'cold-feet' are:
Attend industry conferences, such as the DMA and ATA, as well as trade events within the client industries you serve. This approach is enormously beneficial in staying abreast of compliance issues and changes.
Work closely with a good law firm that understands your business's laws and regulations. The "legalese" can be even more complex than actual regulatory requirements.
Get your name and face out there. Don't be afraid to meet with state lawmakers, FTC and FCC personnel and other government representatives.