Compliance in Pay-Per-Call


Telemarketing is notorious for being highly regulated, but it can be confusing which telemarketing regulations extend to the pay-per-call industry and how they apply. However, this is a growing concern for advertisers that want to protect their brand. In fact, the quality of call traffic is often the top deciding factor for brands and networks when choosing which new pay-per-call affiliates to work with.

As a publisher or affiliate in pay-per-call, it is important to ensure you deliver high-quality calls that are generated in compliance with all applicable marketing and advertising laws and regulations. This will limit legal liability for your business and decrease the chances your advertiser partner or network will request refunds for calls or terminate your contract based on quality concerns.

This guide will teach you the laws and regulations you need to know in pay-per-call, how they apply to your pay-per-call efforts, and tips that will help you ensure your traffic is compliant.

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Defining Compliance in Pay-Per-Call

Why You Need Compliance Measures

In the pay-per-call industry, there are many laws and regulations to be aware of and enforce. Affiliates and publishers are typically held financially responsible for breaking a statute or restriction, although advertisers have been liable for the acts of their affiliates in certain cases. This means that if you (or any affiliates you may use) violate a federal law while sourcing leads for your campaign, you can be held financially responsible.

The penalty for such a violation will depend on the law, the severity of the violation, and the number of violations, but penalties range from a few thousand dollars to millions – which can be devastating for affiliates.

But the financial penalty is only part of the punishment. Affiliates that violate these regulations face irreparable harm to their reputation as a performance marketing partner – the effects of which can last long after the retribution check is signed as advertisers look to partner with a more trustworthy affiliate in the future.

Common Laws and Regulations in Pay-Per-Call

The most common laws and regulations you will face in the pay-per-call industry include:

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Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)

Year: 1991

Who It Protects: All U.S. consumers as well as and those on the national Do-Not-Call Registry.

What It Regulates: The TCPA restricts certain telemarketing practices using voice calls, SMS, fax, and auto machine dialing, better known as robocalls, when communicating with consumers.

What This Means for Pay-Per-Call: Outbound call sources cannot contact consumers on the national Do-Not-Call Registry. When businesses are permitted to contact consumers for purposes of telemarketing, businesses must abide by the regulations outlined in this statute, including obtaining and maintaining proper consent records.

California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)

Year: 2018

Who It Protects: Residents of California

What It Regulates: Under the CCPA, businesses covered by the act must adhere to certain requirements regarding the collection and sale of consumer personal information.

What This Means for Pay-Per-Call: Affiliates who are considered covered businesses under the law must adhere to the regulations concerning maintaining proper records regarding the sale of any personal information. Affiliates must also provide a way for California residents to make requests regarding access to, deletion of, and/or opt out from the sale of their personal information.

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

Year: 1996

Who It Protects: All U.S. health patients.

What It Regulates: HIPAA is a federal law that prohibits the disclosure of sensitive patient health information without the patient’s knowledge and consent.

What This Means for Pay-Per-Call: Any sensitive health information that identifies the individual cannot be recorded, transferred to a vendor, or disclosed to an outside source.

Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act (CANSPAM)

Year: 2003

Who It Protects: All U.S. consumers.

What It Regulates: CANSPAM is a federal law that regulates commercial email and messages. Under CANSPAM, commercial emails must provide consumers a way to opt-out of future emails.

What This Means for Pay-Per-Call: Any lead-generation techniques using electronic mail messages must adhere to the rules defined in this act and are strictly prohibited from distributing pornographic content.

Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA)

Year: 1999

Who It Protects: All U.S. financial customers.

What It Regulates: The GLBA is a federal law that requires financial institutions to disclose how they share and protect their customers’ private information.

What This Means for Pay-Per-Call: Any personal information that identifies the financial consumer cannot be recorded, transferred to a vendor, or disclosed to an outside source.

Federal Trade Commission Act

Year: 1914

Who It Protects: All U.S. consumers.

What It Regulates: The Federal Trade Commission Act prevents unfair and deceptive business practices as well as unfair methods of competition that affect commerce. The FTC can require businesses to pay monetary retribution for any marketing practices that cause harm to consumers.

What This Means for Pay-Per-Call: Marketers must ensure their marketing practices are in line with all the laws enforced by the FTC.

Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR)

Year: 1995

Who It Protects: All U.s. consumers.

What It Regulates: The TSR regulates the practices of telemarketers including how many times they can call one number, what information they must disclose, and the payment methods they are able to use.

What This Means for Pay-Per-Call: Affiliates that make outbound calls must comply with the rules outlined in the TSR, disclose to consumers that they are a telemarketing company, and never call a consumer who is on the national Do-Not-Call registry.

Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)

Year: 1998

Who It Protects: U.S. children under 13 years of age

What It Regulates: The COPPA outlines restrictions for online websites or services that are directed at or collect information from children under 13 years of age.

What This Means for Pay-Per-Call: Affiliates that operate a website or application must give parents of children 13 and under the opportunity to consent to their child’s information being collected as well as access to review and delete the information and prevent the future use of their information.

How To Be Compliant

By taking a step back and reviewing your businesses processes and call generation methods, you can weed out any bad practices that do not comply with legal regulations or your advertiser’s specifications.

When reviewing your processes for compliance, we recommend you do the following:

  • Analyze your call sources – if you work with any other publishers or affiliates, evaluate their call generation methods.
  • Limit your marketing distribution channels – only use the marketing channels you are most comfortable with to limit your risk of compliance violation. If you do branch out into a different marketing channel, be sure to familiarize yourself with the regulations surrounding that tactic. For example, if you want to start email marketing, make sure you understand the regulations outlined in CANSPAM.
  • Generate inbound call traffic – this will eliminate the risk of violating laws that regulate telemarketing and outbound calling. Of course, this isn’t possible for all affiliates, so if you do use outbound calling, be sure to disclose it to your network or advertiser partners.
  • Submit your creatives before your campaign starts – this will give advertisers time to review your marketing creatives – such as landing pages, ad copy, and images –so you can ensure you are not promoting an offer, price or trademark that violates the brand’s requirements.
  • Continuously monitor call traffic – this will help you keep a pulse on the quality and compliance of your campaign’s call traffic.
  • Adhere to your network or advertiser’s guidelines – be sure you understand the restrictions your network or advertiser has in place for its affiliates, so they won’t request refunds for calls or terminate your contract based on quality concerns.

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When you work with a trusted pay-per-call network, they’ll be able to answer your compliance questions and help you ensure your call traffic is compliant and your business is not at risk.


Ensuring call quality is crucial to limiting your business’s liability and improving relationships with your pay-per-call network or advertiser partners.

With consistently compliant and efficient traffic, you will likely be rewarded with more budget to fill and other affiliate incentives. For example, at CallThread, we like to reward our publishers who have proven call quality with higher payouts. To join CallThread’s publisher network, or to browse our available offers, click here.