FTC Proposes National "Do Not Call" Registry
January 22, 2002
Commission Seeks Comment on Registry and Other Proposed Changes to the Telemarketing Sales Rule
The Federal Trade Commission today announced a proposal to create a centralized national "Do Not Call" registry. The registry would enable consumers to eliminate most telemarketing calls simply by making one call to the FTC. The proposal is a key component of the privacy initiative that FTC Chairman Timothy J. Muris announced in early October. The proposed national "Do Not Call" registry is one element of the Commission's proposal to modify the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR), which protects consumers from unwanted and late-night telemarketing calls and prohibits deceptive sales calls. The proposed amendments to the TSR are designed to enhance the Rule's ability to prevent deceptive telemarketing practices and to enable consumers to exert greater control over when and whether to receive telemarketing calls in their homes.
"Under the FTC's proposal, it would be illegal for telemarketers to call consumers who place their phone number on the national registry," said Howard Beales, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. "Today's action is the first step. But, consumers need to understand that this is a proposal. If adopted, it will be a while before the national 'Do Not Call' registry can become a reality." A notice of proposed rulemaking to be published shortly in the Federal Register will seek public comment on this change and a range of other proposed amendments to the TSR.
The Commission is also proposing changes to the TSR mandated by the recently enacted USA PATRIOT Act. Prompted by the events of September 11, this legislation, among other things, directs the Commission to expand the TSR to cover calls made to solicit charitable contributions. (Currently the TSR covers only calls made to sell goods and services.) By law, non-profit charitable organizations are exempt from the FTC's jurisdiction, and the USA
PATRIOT Act does not change that. However, the USA PATRIOT Act does enable the FTC to act against for-profit companies that engage in fraudulent, deceptive, or abusive practices when they solicit charitable contributions on behalf of charities or purported charities.
The TSR (16 CFR Part 310) prohibits specific deceptive and abusive telemarketing acts or practices; requires telemarketers to make specific disclosures of material information; prohibits misrepresentations; limits the hours that telemarketers may call consumers; prohibits calls to a consumer who has asked not to be called again; and sets payment restrictions for the sale of certain goods and services. The Act that authorizes the FTC Rule also authorizes both the FTC and state attorneys general to enforce the TSR in federal court. The Rule, which marked its fifth anniversary this past March, has resulted in judgments amounting to more than $152 million in consumer redress and $500,000 in civil penalties.
The Commission also announced it will hold a public forum on June 5-7, 2002 to allow FTC staff and interested parties to explore and discuss issues raised during the comment period for the amended TSR.
The highlights of the FTC's proposed amendments are provided below. A detailed summary of these proposals can be found in the notice of proposed rulemaking, which will be published in the Federal Register and is available at www.ftc.gov.
Through the proposed rulemaking, the Commission is seeking to:
Source: Federal Trade Commission