South Carolina Caller ID & Scripting Changes

On May 18, 2018, South Carolina passed a new bill, effective immediately, that changes the state’s rules regarding caller identification and disclosure requirements. Previously, as with the federal rules, telemarketers were allowed to display a local area code so long as this was done without the intent to defraud, cause harm, or harass the consumer. Now, sellers and telemarketers are prohibited from displaying a local South Carolina caller ID number unless the caller has a physical location in the state. This new law applies to all calls and there is no exemption to this rule for calls made to persons with an existing business relationship or calls made for informational purposes. Specifically, the new statute reads:

“…a person may not, with the intent to defraud, harass, cause harm or wrongfully obtain anything of value, including, but not limited to, financial resources or personal identifying information as defined by Section 16-13-510, make, place, or initiate a call or text message or engage in conduct that results in the display of misleading, false or inaccurate caller identification information on the receiving party’s telephone or otherwise circumvent caller identification technology that allows the receiving party to identify from what phone number, location, or organization the call or text message has originated from or misrepresent the origin and nature of the call or text message.” (S.C. Code Ann. § 37-21-50)

Although it appears this statute applies to callers intending to cause harm or defraud consumers, the new text includes specific language that outlines callers may not use caller ID information to “wrongfully obtain anything of value.”  It also states that identification technology may not be used that circumvents the consumer’s ability to determine the location of the caller. It could be argued that using a local South Carolina area code to increase the chances of answered telemarketing calls (as consumers are more likely to answer a call from a local area code) could constitute wrongfully obtaining something of value, a sale or masking the location of the caller.

This new bill also updates South Carolina’s disclosure requirements. During any telemarketing call, callers must now promptly disclose the consumer’s right to be added to the internal do not call (DNC) list as well as confirmation that the consumer’s name and telephone number will be placed on the list. Additionally, South Carolina has implemented a “No Rebuttal” requirement. If a consumer indicates at any time during the call that he or she does not wish to hear the offer, the caller must immediately go to a courtesy close and end the call without any further attempts at solicitation. These disclosures are not required if the caller has an established business relationship with the consumer.

Violators of this new law are subject to a private right of action for $1,000 per violation and $5,000 per willful violation.

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