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Telemarketing Consumer Fraud and Abuse Act

On August 16, 1994, President Clinton sighed into law the Telemarketing Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act. The Act was the culmination of Congressional efforts during the early 1990s to protect consumers against telemarketing fraud. The purpose was to counteract telemarketing fraud by providing law enforcement agencies with powerful new tools, and to give consumers new protections.

Federal Telemarketing Laws

There are federal telemarketing rules promulgated by the following agencies:

1) Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) works to ensure that the nations markets are vigorous, efficient and free of restrictions that harm consumers. FTC enforces federal consumer protection laws that prevent fraud, deception and unfair business practices. The Commission also enforces federal antitrust laws that prohibit anticompetitive mergers and other business practices that restrict competition and harm consumers. Whether combating telemarketing fraud, Internet scams or price-fixing schemes, the FTCs primary mission is to protect consumers.

2) Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is an independent United States government agency, directly responsible to Congress. The FCC was established by the Communications Act of 1934 and is charged with regulating interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable. The FCCs jurisdiction covers the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. possessions.

Laws generated by the FTC and the FCC:

Federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA) sets forth restrictions on the use of telephone equipment to send unsolicited commercial advertisements.
Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) - pursuant to the Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act, the TSR provides similar restrictions on telemarketing, and also requires certain disclosures and record keeping in connection with telemarketing calls. A recent amendment to the TSR created a national Do Not Call registry, which is currently being developed.

State Telemarketing Laws

Laws governing automatic dialing and announcing devices (telemarketing auto dialer equipment) differ from state to state and from country to country. Some locales have additional legislation at the city and county levels. It is the sole responsibility of each Sales Representative to familiarize themselves with the laws related to their specific application, and adhere to them. Because of the large number of laws on the books and their variance, and for the reason that these laws frequently contradict one another. State law is preempt by the federal rules, except to the extent that a state law imposes stricter requirements on telemarketers. For these states for example, require sellers to abide by not using rebuttals when the customer objects:

Protecting Consumers Privacy

The Rule prohibits sellers and telemarketers from engaging in certain abusive practices that infringe on a consumers right to be let alone. The Rules privacy protections include prohibitions on: Calling a person whose number is on the National Do .Not Call Registry or a person who has asked not to get telemarketing calls form a particular company or charity. Misusing a Do Not Call list. Not providing Proper Identification Calling outside the permissible hours. Not providing general information of Product/service to the consumer Abandoning an outbound telephone call. Other related policies.

Do Not Call List

The FTCs National Do Not Call Registry has been accepting registrations from consumers who choose not to receiving telemarketing sales calls since June 27, 2003. Consumers can place their telephone numbers on the National Registry by making a toll-free telephone call or via the Internet. Consumer registrations are valid for five years, or until the consumer asks to be taken off the National Registry or the number is disconnected. Only telephone numbers are included in the National Registry. This means that all household members who share a number will stop receiving most telemarketing calls after the number is registered. Consumers may register both their residential land line telephone numbers and their wireless telephone numbers.

Telephone Sales Compliance

In 1994, Congress passed the Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act to combat telephone fraud by providing law enforcement agencies with powerful new tools and to give consumers new protections and guidance on how to differentiate between fraudulent and legitimate telemarketing.

Here are the major components of the act and how they impact our jobs at any call center: - Proper Identification
All call center outbound telemarketing calls must promptly disclose, in a clear and obvious manner: ______ The identity of the CSA making the call. The purpose of the call.

Calling Hour Restrictions

The act expressly forbids calls to private residences before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m. (local time at the customers location). Any exceptions to this must be with the expressed consent of the called party. Required Information To Consumers Cost & Quantity The act requires us whether were receiving inbound calls or making outbound calls to provide the total cost to purchase our products or services. Restrictions We must disclose to our customers any restrictions, limitations, conditions, or additional expenses that they may incur to purchase our products or services.

Authorization For Payment

The act requires our customers expressed verifiable authorization for use of bank account information to obtain payment through phone checks. This can be accomplished by advance written authorization, a fax, or a tape recording of the customer giving the authorization.

Prohibitions Under The Act

Claims which are false or misleading are strictly prohibited. All offers must be stated clearly and honestly so that the parties know exactly what they have committed to, how much it will cost, and what they will be getting in return.

Do Not Call Policies

Any CSAs may not call a customer who has requested to receive no more calls from us. The act also requires all call centers to maintain do not call lists of those consumers who do not wish to be contacted by phone, to develop a written policy implementing this do not call list-keeping requirement, and to train our CSAs in these procedures. Enforcement and Penalties

Calling a consumer who has requested not to be called is an act violation and could result in civil penalties of up to $10,000 per violation.
Other Rules that apply: Denying or interfering with a persons Do Not Call rights. Using threats, intimidation, or profane or obscene language. Causing any telephone to ring or engaging any person in telephone conversation repeatedly or continuously with intent to annoy, abuse, or harass.