Disclaimer: This blog is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice and does not create or intend to create an attorney-client relationship. This blog post should never be used to replace the advice of your personal attorney.

Telemarketing is one of the most efficient ways of selling goods and services in the United States. However, a company needs to tread carefully, as there are multiple regulations to protect consumers against fraud, scams, and extortion. To ensure customers have peace of mind when doing business with you, make sure you are up to date with the Telemarketing Sales Rules (TSR).

What Are The Telemarketing Sales Rules?

The first set of Telemarketing Sales Rules (TSR) saw implementation in 1995. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) further updated the telemarketing rules in 2003, 2008, 2010, and 2015. The purpose of the regulations is to enforce the Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act. The document is rather extensive, though to summarize it, the most critical points are:

  • Prohibition of misrepresentation
  • Boundaries for telemarketers calling consumers
  • Rules for disclosing a customer’s account information, including credit card info
  • Transmission of Caller ID information
  • Regulation of abandoned outbound calls and safe harbor
  • Payment restrictions
  • Recordkeeping requirements

The Do Not Call Registry

There are several extensions to the Telemarketing Sales Rules (TSR), with one being the Federal Do Not Call List. Both the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are in charge of overseeing the guidelines of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The National Do Not Call Registry includes numbers that businesses and telemarketers can’t call with a sales pitch without an established business relationship. Companies need to purchase a subscription to sections of the DNC list that contain the telephone numbers in the area codes they operate in. It is possible to subscribe to the entire national registry, for businesses that have a broader market. 

Who Oversees The Rules?

Violators of the DNC list and the TSR as a whole receive severe penalties from the FCC, the FTC, and the state attorneys general office. These are the three entities that make sure that telemarketers’ business practices follow the rules and then carry out the enforcement actions when necessary. Service providers also need to acquaint themselves with specific state laws too. Certain telemarketing practices may be acceptable in one state, but unlawful in another. If you want to be on the side of ethical service providers, consult with a lawyer, contact us at TCPA Protect, or call your local attorney general’s office for more information. You will do a better job of protecting consumers of your products and services by being informed. Optimize your telemarketing calls properly so that you have happier customers.

Note that the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission do their best to provide the necessary information to all private individuals and companies. The ftc.gov website contains information on all federal laws and state laws. The Frequently Asked Question sections prove useful to those who want a better understanding of the Federal Do Not Call List, the Telemarketing Sales Rules, etc.                                                                                                    

What Penalties Apply?

Different violations warrant different penalties for those who perform abusive telemarketing acts. For example, if you or your telemarketers call a number on the Do Not Call List and you have no established business relationship with, you can receive a fine between $500 and over $40 000. Violators that compromise their customers’ personal information may even go to jail. Other offenses come with the threat of loss of a business license. If you protect your consumers from unethical telemarketing practices, you’re protecting your company too. Some rules to follow to provide that protection include:

  • You should make sure that your telemarketers make the seller’s identity clear and the purpose of the call.
  • When there is an implication for the purchase of goods, the dialer should clearly state that.
  • People who have been on the DNC list longer than a month period shouldn’t receive such calls.

Not all companies need to abide by these rules. Several exemptions apply to the Telemarketing Sales Rules:

  • Financial institutions may call with purely informative purposes
  • Non-profit organizations may call asking for charitable contributions
  • Political campaigns are exempt too
  • Survey and poll calls are allowed
  • Debt collectors are also allowed

If your organization qualifies as exempt from the Do Not Call List and other Telemarketing Sales Rules, you should confirm its status with the FTC. There are still entity-specific regulations you need to follow. TCPA Protect can help you figure them out so that people receiving telephone calls from your campaign don’t have anything less than a pleasant experience. Go to the ftc.gov website for further details. The Federal Trade Commission has provided all the information your company may need to fulfill its obligations under the Telemarketing Sales Rules.

Are The Telemarketing Sales Rules Effective?

Consumer satisfaction of telemarketing practices has been steadily rising ever since the first Telemarketing Sales Rules came into existence. Additions and changes that better adapt them to modern technology make them even more efficient. Regulations about prerecorded messages and robocalls(auto-dialers), for example, were seen as a much-needed development.

Before the adoption of the TSR, even people who liked receiving telephone calls from telemarketers suffered. Rules regarding dialing consumers – between 9 am and 5 pm local time – relieved much of the burden.

Disclosure of the nature of goods is another important feature of the Rules. The TSR regulates payment methods as well, giving companies fewer ways to take advantage of consumers.

It’s easy to see that the Telemarketing Sales Rules have a very positive effect on the way businesses and consumers interact. Knowing and following them is the best way to protect your customers. TCPA Protect can help you raise client satisfaction by helping you craft a law-abiding telemarketing campaign.