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Supreme Court: It’s OK to Market from Your Cellphone

Realtors can call or text a marketing message from their cellphone, providing it doesn’t have the ability to store or dial numbers automatically using a number generator.

WASHINGTON – It’s official: Real estate professionals can use their cell phones to make marketing calls and send marketing text messages. In a unanimous decision last Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Telephone Consumer Protection Act only applies to devices with the capacity to store or dial numbers using a random or sequential number generator.

In other words, a cell phone that does not have an app that can randomly or sequentially dial numbers will not be considered an automated telephone dialing system and be subject to the restrictions of the act.

The long-awaited opinion in the Facebook Inc. v. Duguid case reverses a decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

However, two concerns still apply when it comes to Realtor marketing via cellphone:

  1. The federal Do-Not-Call list and Florida Do-Not-Call list. Marketers cannot contact if the number appears on the list, subject to few exceptions. Realtors should check both federal and state DNC lists before proceeding with marketing calls.
  2. Third-party vendors. Businesses that contract with third-party vendors could be held responsible if that third-party vendor uses illegal telemarketing techniques.

“This is an important ruling for real estate professionals looking for ways to grow their business since it eliminates a handful of restrictive federal court holdings suggesting that any marketing call using a cellular phone required prior express written consent of the person being called,” says Jon Waclawski, senior political compliance counsel and director of legal affairs with the National Association of Realtors®.

“Now, real estate professionals may use their cellular phones to make marketing calls to numbers not on the Do-Not-Call list without prior consent.”

Still, he adds, callers must remember that the Do-Not-Call restrictions still apply and should continue to adhere to any applicable call laws. “This area of law will remain a moving target as Congress and potentially states consider making new laws affecting marketing calls,” Waclawski adds.

Source: National Association of Realtors® (NAR)

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