With so much focus on the CCPA and SHAKEN/STIR laws that are going into effect this year, it is easy to lose sight of the exemptions or Safe Harbors that FCC, FTC and TTCPA have in place for contact centers. One of these is the Established Business Relationship (EBR), however, it is not a “Get out of Jail free” card.  You will still need to follow certain rules and record keeping in order to avoid fines and/or penalties.

EBR Definition

Federal rules as well as many states recognize an EBR as an exemption from Federal and state DNC rules.  As defined by the FTC’s DNC rules, the Established Business Relationship means a relationship between a seller and a consumer based on:

  1. The consumer’s purchase, rental or lease of the seller’s goods or services or a financial transaction between the consumer and seller, within the eighteen (18) months immediately preceding the date of a telemarketing call; or
  • The consumer’s inquiry or application regarding a product or service offered by the seller, within three (3) months immediately preceding the date of a telemarking call.

The FTC reminds businesses to exercise caution when relying on the “established business relationship” exception for calls to registered numbers. Specifically, the FTC has stated that the existence of an established business relationship hinges on the consumer’s expectations.  In other words, in the FTC’s view the existence of an established business relationship will depend on whether a consumer is likely to be surprised by a call. 

The FCC’s definition varies slightly in that it specifically states that an exchange of considerations is not required in order for an EBR to exists. Remember, EBR not only pertains to calls as pertains to DNC lists, but is relevant to texting and faxing.  In all cases, more stringent state rules trump federal rules, so make sure you understand any state rules.

EBR Examples

Below are some typical interactions between customer and company and how long the EBR is allowed.

  • Customer requests a quote using companies’ website
    • General Inquiry – 3 months EBR
  • Customer makes a one-time purchase
    • Past Transaction – 18 months EBR
  • Customer subscribes to an ongoing service
    • Current Customer – EBR last until either the customer or company cancels the subscription
  • Customer places an inbound call to company to request information about a service
    • General Inquiry – 3 months EBR

Record Keeping

In order to use EBR as a defense, your recording keeping needs to be impeccable and always up to date.  These records include, but are not limited to:

  • EBR date and event
  • Date and time of call
  • Telephone number dialed
  • Marketing
    • Copies of forms that are utilized to generate inquiries, purchase from customers
    • Telephone scripts used during inbound and/or outbound calls
  • Records of employee training, date, time, etc.

In summary, EBR is one of your strongest defenses but you will need to ensure that your records are up to date and understand your state laws. For more help in understanding EBR or creating and deploying a strategy that implements the EBR concept, CH Consulting Group is here for you! Contact us today at christah@thechcg.com to schedule some time to discuss your challenges, questions and concerns!