Finance Globe

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Prerecorded Telemarketing Calls Prohibited Starting September 1

Is there anything more irritating than to take the time to answer a call, only to have to listen to some prerecorded sales pitch?

Well, our friendly Federal Trade Commission is looking out for us. Beginning September 1, 2009, "robocalls" - prerecorded commerical telemarketing calls - will be prohibited unless the telemarketer has obtained permission, in writing, from the consumer who wants to receive those types of calls.

"American consumers have made it crystal clear that few things annoy them more than the billions of commercial telemarketing robocalls they receive every year,” said Jon Leibowitz, Chairman of the FTC. “Starting September 1, this bombardment of prerecorded pitches, senseless solicitations, and malicious marketing will be illegal. If consumers think they’re being harassed by robocallers, they need to let us know, and we will go after them.”

And the FTC means business. The new requirement is part of amendments to the agency’s Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) that were announced a year ago, and prohibits telemarketing robocalls to consumers whether or not they previously have done business with the seller. Sellers and telemarketers face penalties of up to $16,000 per call if they don't abide by the new rules.

But the TSR restrictions only apply to commercial telemarketing - calls in which there is something to be sold. Purely informational recorded messages are not prohibited, such as calls from a doctor's office that sends an appointment reminder, a school that sends bus delay notices, or an airline that sends notice of a canceled flight.

In addition, calls not covered by the TSR – including those from politicians, banks, telephone carriers, and most charitable organizations – are not covered by the new prohibition. The new prohibition on prerecorded messages does not apply to certain healthcare messages.

Such calls are not covered by the TSR, as long as they do not attempt to interest consumers in the sale of any goods or services. For the same reason, the rule amendments also do not apply to calls concerning collection of debts where the calls do not seek to promote the sale of any goods or services.

Under a previous rule that took effect on December 1, 2008, telemarketing robocall messages by businesses covered by the TSR must tell consumers how to opt-out of further calls at the start of the message, and provide an automated opt-out mechanism that is voice or keypress-activated. Prerecorded messages left on answering machines must also provide a toll-free number that connects to the automated opt-out mechanism.

After September 1, consumers who receive prerecorded telemarketing calls but have not agreed to get them should file a complaint with the Commission, either on the Web site or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP. The FTC is the nation's consumer protection agency against fraudulent, deceptive, and misleading business practices.

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Saturday, 19 June 2021

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