These 31 states have a local telephone solicitor licensing process. Many of these same states also require the placement of a telemarketing surety bond. Most call centers are unaware that the licensing is required not only for their home state where they call from, but also applies to all the states they call into. The process, forms and annual dues vary greatly by state. Thankfully, the cost in most states is minimal. Also, each license state has a list of possible licensing exemptions. Some states exempt consent-based campaigns, inbound campaigns, and professional insurance and real estate licensees, for example. Other states exempt telemarketers who refrain from prize promotions. Marketers who lack licensing or who only have their home state license should promptly conduct a 50-states exemption analysis to determine their obligations and exposure. In general, states want unlicensed call centers to come into compliance and operate in the sunlight, meaning they rarely penalize call centers for coming to get the license for the first time. Licensing is not an issue to blow off though, as some states (Florida, for example) routinely raid and shut down unlicensed floors.
A group of law firms who previously represented numerous TCPA "professional plaintiffs" is getting a taste of their own medicine as they are now the defendants in a class action lawsuit. Jeffrey Winters and his company, Collection Solutions Inc., is the named plaintiff in the case Winters v. Jones, filed on December 5, 2016. Click here to view a copy of the civil complaint. Defendants include, among others, Laura Mann and Yitchak Zelman, counsel for numerous plaintiff TCPA cases.
The defendants have allegedly been engaging in what is essentially a "racketeering" operation since early 2013. The lawsuit alleges this involved the filing of numerous, baseless TCPA and similar consumer protection lawsuits by the defendants against debt collection and other companies. The defendants would demand settlements in the range of $10,000 to $100,000, assuming that most of their target companies would take advantage of the less expensive settlement instead of investing even more money and time in a drawn-out litigation.