How Does the Do Not Call (DNC Registry) Provisions Affect Organizations' Marketing Activities?
Nowadays, it is hard to find anyone without access to a phone, hence many businesses continue to rely on telemarketing and cold calling as a means of prospecting customers.
Since the introduction of the Do Not Call (DNC Registry) Provisions under the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA), all organizations will need to pay attention to who they are sending telemarketing messages to and if they are even allowed to.
This guide aims to help your business comply with the relevant DNC provisions, especially if you employ telemarketing activities as part of marketing and lead generation.
What is the Do Not Call (DNC Registry) ?
The Do Not Call (DNC Registry) is a database where individuals with 8-digit Singapore telephone numbers can register their mobile/telephone numbers to opt out of receiving unsolicited marketing messages and calls.
The 3 types of Do Not Call DNC Registry:
- No Voice Call Register – to opt out of receiving telemarketing calls
- No Text Message Register – to opt out of receiving telemarketing text messages, eg. SMS/MMS/WhatsApp
- No Fax Message Register – to opt out of receiving telemarketing faxes
Note that the DNC Registry accepts mobile, home and office numbers. Any Singapore number that begins with 3, 6, 8 or 9 can be registered.
Sending Specified Messages
Marketing messages, also known as “Specified messages” are generally defined as messages used for advertising or promoting goods and services, suppliers or suppliers of such goods and services.
This extends to the advertising and promotion of interests in land or business/investment opportunities.
However, messages sent for conducting market research surveys or for charitable and religious purposes are exempted.
It is important to note that the Do Not Call DNC Registry provisions also applies to the sending of telemarketing messages through smartphone applications that use a telephone number as an identifier, such as WhatsApp.
B2B marketing calls or messages sent to other organisations do not fall under the purview of the DNC Provisions. If an individual uses a number for both personal and business use, he/she may still receive B2B marketing calls or messages that are sent to his/her number as a business phone number.
The format for sending a specified message should contain clear and accurate information identifying the organization, as well as its contact details; and if making a phone call, the telephone number it is making the call from cannot be concealed
When do You Need to Check the Do not Call DNC Registry?
Under the PDPA, your organization is required to screen your call lists with the relevant registers prior to sending out specified messages to Singapore telephone numbers.
The PDPA shall apply to a marketing message addressed to a Singapore telephone number where:
- the sender is present in Singapore when the message is sent; or
- the recipient of the message is present in Singapore when the message is accessed.
If a Singapore organization outsources the telemarketing function overseas, the Singapore organization that authorised the sending of the message will need to comply with the Do Not Call DNC provisions and will be responsible for the sending of the message.
If both the telemarketing organisation and the organisation which outsourced its telemarketing function are overseas organisations, and the recipient is overseas, the DNC provisions will not apply.
The organisation that sends, caused the telemarketing message to be sent and authorised the sending of the message are all responsible for ensuring that the telemarketing list has been checked with the Do Not Call DNC Registry.
Exemptions to Not Check the Do Not Call DNC Registry
Unless your organization has obtained clear and unambiguous consent in written or accessible form from the owner of that telephone number, you are required to check all telephone numbers before conducting any telemarketing activities.
Under the Personal Data Protection (Exemption from Section 43) Order 2013, an organisation is able to send telemarketing messages without checking the Do Not Call DNC Registry if several conditions are satisfied:
- It must have an ongoing relationship with the subscriber, characterised by a business relationship or activity between the organisation and subscriber, e.g. a subscription, membership, account etc. One off transactions or past interactions are not eligible.
- The content of the message must be related to the subject of the organisation’s ongoing relationship with the subscriber.
- It must provide an opt-out facility at the end of the message, usually in the form of a short code or text message reply. Once the subscriber has opted out, the organisation has to cease sending any telemarketing messages to that subscriber after 30 days of the opt-out.
How to Check the Do Not Call DNC Registry?
You will need to create an account on the DNC Registry website, and login via CorpPass for organizations registered in Singapore.
You will then have to submit a list of telephone numbers you wish to screen against the Do Not Call DNC Registry. There are 2 methods to do this:
(I) Small Number Lookup
You can enter up to 10 phone numbers manually at one time. Results of the search are displayed immediately.
(II) Bulk Filtering
Under this option, your organization can check as many numbers as required by uploading a CSV file containing a list of all 8-digit Singapore telephone numbers.
Once the check is complete, an email can be sent to notify you. Within 24 hours, the results will be available for download in the following formats:
- Filtered Numbers: This displays the list of submitted numbers and their status (Registered/Not registered) in each Register (Voice/call/fax)
- Summary: A summary of the submission (quantity submitted/checked/rejected)
- On behalf list: If your company is checking the telephone numbers on behalf of another organisation(s), the list of organisation(s) is displayed here.
- Rejected numbers: This lists all the numbers that cannot not be processed, accompanied with reasons for the rejection.
All results are valid for 30 days, after which if your organization wishes to conduct telemarketing activities, you will have to check with the DNC Registry again.
Cost of Using the Do Not Call DNC Registry for Screening
All businesses who need to use the DNC Data for screening will need to create an account at a one-time fee of $30 ($60 for overseas companies) to gain access.
Upon submission of numbers, the Do Not Call DNC Registry will process and begin deducting one credit for each telephone number.
The Do Not Call DNC Registry allocates an annual 1000 free credits, which is useful for businesses that have less than 1000 numbers to check.
For additional checks beyond the 1000 free quota, your organisation has to purchase credits.
There are 2 options for payment:
Purchasing credits in advance. There are different tiers (A to F), corresponding from 5000 to 1000,000 credits. Depending on the credit tier selected, this can cost between $100 to $10,000.
Your organization pays a fee each time it submits telephone numbers for screening. A minimum charge of $10 applies, with each submitted number costing 2.3 cents to 2.5 cents based on the volume.
Both online (credit/debit) and offline (Telegraphic Transfer or bank transfer) payment modes are available.
Penalties for Sending Specified Messages to Numbers Listed on the Do Not Call DNC Registry
Sending telemarketing messages to numbers listed on the DNC Registry without consent is an offence. Any organisation that breaches the DNC Provisions under the PDPA is liable to pay a fine of up to S$10,000 per offence.
The need to check the Do Not Call DNC Registry before sending marketing messages to Singapore phone numbers will place additional compliance requirements on companies that engage in B2C marketing and promotions via text or phone calls.
It will be necessary to educate your organisation’s telemarketing and sales teams on these regulatory requirements. For a start, it will serve your company best to create an account with the DNC Registry as this also allows you to start budgeting for any necessary compliance expenses.
In summary, your organization can only perform telemarketing activities to a Singapore telephone number if any of the following conditions are met:
- You have an ongoing business relationship with the subscriber, the content of the message must be related to the subject of the ongoing relationship and an opt-out facility is made available
- You have checked the Do Not Call DNC registry and the telephone number is not listed
- You have explicit consent from the owner of the telephone number to receive telemarketing messages