A telemarketing firm drew the ire of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) when it produced its raw call center database records to the agency. The FTC interpreted these database records as showing that the firm had violated the Do Not Call list 80,000 times. At $10,000 per violation, the exposure could have been the firm’s demise. Certain that the records must be incorrect, but not knowing how to demonstrate this, the firm asked Stroz Friedberg to help them respond to the FTC’s allegation.
Over a period of three months, Stroz digital forensics experts studied the call center software, the database schema, the workflow by which data was purportedly scrubbed against Do Not Call lists, and the way that call center reports were generated. We determined that the call center software was vastly over-reporting calls to prohibited numbers: thousands upon thousands of calls were shown as completed when they were, in fact, busy signals, unanswered calls, uncompleted calls, and calls to the same number. By gaining mastery over the data and the software, Stroz Friedberg was able to convincingly demonstrate to the FTC that the possible violations numbered in the low thousands and that the main problem came from failures by contracted third parties to effectively scrub telemarketing lists against Do Not Call lists. Based on our work, the firm was able to negotiate a manageable fine with the FTC, to bring its vendors into better compliance with the Do Not Call regulations, and to correct its database record-keeping and reporting mechanisms.