An Important Fundraising Notice From MS Regarding Telephone Solicitation
If your nonprofit organization is hiring a fundraising professional or paying staff members to make telephone solicitations in MS, effective July 1, 2019 there are new obligations. Please read this important letter from Brandon Presley, MS Chairman of the Public Service Commission and Delbert Hosemann, MS Secretary of State.
June 3, 2019 Letter from the MS Public Service Commission and MS Secretary of State
The purpose of this letter is to inform you that important changes to the Mississippi Telephone Solicitation Act (“the Act”) may affect certain aspects of your organization’s operation.
The Act gives Mississippians the ability to opt out of receiving unwanted telephone calls and text messages from telephone solicitors by placing their telephone number(s) on the Mississippi Do-Not-Call List. The Act requires telephone solicitors to purchase the Do-Not-Call List, maintained by the Mississippi Public Service Commission, each year and ensure that no one on that list receives a telephone solicitation from them.
How has the Act changed?
In the past, the calls charitable organizations made seeking donations did not generally meet the definition of a “telephone solicitation” as used in the Act, and as a result, those sorts of calls were exempt. However, a recent change in the law mandates that beginning July 1, 2019, such calls may be covered under the provisions of the Act. As a result, your organization may need to take additional steps to comply with the Act before placing any fundraising calls or text messages.
One of the major changes to the Act covers paid telephone solicitors, and those organizations that utilize paid telephone solicitors. Existing law already exempts organizations that only utilize volunteers to conduct fundraising activity through telephone solicitations and/or text messages. Moving forward, organizations that utilize paid telephone solicitors or paid staff to place telephone calls or send text messages seeking a charitable contribution or sale will be covered by the Act, and could be subject to the penalties found therein for violating the Act.
Failure to register and/or calling consumers on the list can result in the Public Service Commission issuing fines of up to Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000) for each violation, so we strongly encourage you to register before making any calls or sending text messages designed for fundraising purposes.
What are the next steps?
In order to comply with the Act, paid telephone solicitors and organization utilizing paid telephone solicitors (including staff members) must register with the Public Service Commission as a telemarketer, purchase the Do-Not-Call database, and post a bond. Without these steps, the law forbids your charity from making any telephone solicitations to any consumer at all in the state. The Act forbids calling or texting numbers listed on the Do-Not-Call list to solicit a donation or make a sale.
Thank you for all you do in Mississippi. We ask that you continue your good work with respect for those who have signed up to be on the Do-Not-Call List. Please visit the Public Service Commission’s website to register on July 1 at www.psc.ms.gov or by calling (601) 961-5432.
Brandon Presley, Chairman, Public Service Commission
Delbert Hosemann, Secretary of State