The Federal Trade Commission recently announced a rule that prevents unsolicited robocalls to consumers. Effective Sept. 1, 2009, most robocalls will be illegal and telemarketers must obtain permission in writing from consumers in order to make prerecorded commercial telemarketing calls.
Telemarketers in violation can incur penalties of up to $16,000 per call.
As an amendment of the FTC's Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) from 2008, this new regulation enforces a strict stance against prerecorded pitches and harassment from robocallers. Prior to this, soliciting businesses were required to provide an opt-out function in their prerecorded messages—such as a voice or keypad—activated prompt, or a toll-free phone number with an automated opt-out system. Now, these calls are prohibited regardless of whether the consumer has previously done business with the seller.
This prohibition does not include or affect "informational" calls or recorded messages from select healthcare providers, banks, telephone carriers, politicians, and certain charitable organizations. In addition, calls that do not solicit the sale of goods or services may also be exempt.
"For those who have felt burdened by the recent influx of robocalls, it's been a long time coming," said Robert W.G. Andrew, CEO of BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington. "Now, consumers can decide whether to accept or decline prerecorded telemarketing calls."
Those who receive unwanted prerecorded telemarketing calls after the rule goes into effect, but have not agreed to them in writing, should:
* Register home and cell phone numbers on the Do Not Call List at www.donotcall.gov <http://www.donotcall.gov/> or call 1-888-382-1222.
* Contact the FTC and file a complaint at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov <http://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/> or call 1-877-382-4357.
* Be aware of the regulations governing telemarketing, which protect consumers and businesses. For more information, check with the FTC and your BBB at www.bbb.org <http://www.bbb.org/> .
Read your BBB's recent article on robocalls: www.oregon.bbb.org/article/bbb-warns-consumer-of-robocalls-promising-to-lower-their-credit-card-interest-rate-10973.