ID-ylls of the Ring: FTC rethinks TSR’s Caller ID provisions

When the FTC amended the Telemarketing Sales Rule in 2003, it required telemarketers to transmit Caller ID information.  That policy had three benefits.  It promoted privacy by allowing people to screen out unwanted telemarketing calls.  It increased industry accountability by making it harder for companies to remain anonymous.  And it helped law enforcement by making it easier to identify fraudsters and companies who violated the Do Not Call Registry.

Fast forward to 2010.  Seven years may not seem like much, but it’s an eternity in Telecom Time.  Nowadays many businesses have access to technologies that allow them to transmit Caller ID information that doesn’t reflect the real source of the call.  The FTC has brought ten cases in the past five years alleging that abusive telemarketers concealed their identities from consumers.  Recent actions against telemarketers pitching fraudulent extended auto warranties and credit card interest rate reduction programs charged them with violating the Caller ID requirements.

That’s why the FTC is asking for comments on whether it should modify the TSR to reflect today’s – and tomorrow’s – Caller ID technologies.  The Notice asks specific questions about the TSR and Caller ID, including:

-- Would changes to the TSR improve the ability of Caller ID services to accurately disclose the source of telemarketing calls or improve the ability of service providers to block calls in which information on the source of the call is not available, or has been spoofed?

-- Should the FTC amend the Caller ID provisions of the TSR to recognize or anticipate specific developments in telecommunications technologies relating to the transmission and use of Caller ID information?

-- Should the FTC amend the Caller ID provisions of the TSR to further specify the characteristics of the phone number that a telemarketer must transmit to a Caller ID service? For example, should the Rule require that the phone number transmitted be one that’s listed in publicly available phone directories, a number with an area code and prefix that are associated with the physical location of the telemarketer’s place of business, a number that is answered by a live representative, or automated service that identifies the telemarketer by name?

-- Should the FTC amend the Caller ID provisions to allow a seller or telemarketer to use trade names or product names in the name information displayed by Caller ID services?

Interested in filing a comment? The deadline is January 28, 2011.

3 Comments

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Telemarketers should not be permitted to use "Restricted" numbers. I recently got 9 such calls in 6 days from a company selling labor law signs. They refused to put me on their "Do not call list" to which I am registered. They wanted my credit card # to charge me to do this. I can not file a complaint since I do not have their phone # or the name of the company. This is extremely frustrating. Please help!!

Kaity:
Thanks for your comment. Telemarketers that make calls across state lines on behalf of charitable groups are, in fact, required to comply with the law. For example, they can only call between 8:00 am and 9:00 pm. They have to promptly identify the charity they represent and that they are calling to ask for money. It’s illegal for them to lie or mislead you to get a contribution and they can’t call you again if you asked them not to. You can learn more at the FTC’s Phone Fraud website.

A resounding YES!!!! All of these examples should be implemented to help safeguard Americans from potential harm. There should also be a do not call list that charities have to use. Its rediculous that charities (and so-called charities are allowed to harrass people! They should be subject to law too!!

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