TSR: Time for Some Rethinking

In 1995, the FTC built the Telemarketing Sales Rule from the ground up. Since then, we’ve done some remodeling – for example, including the provision to outlaw most robocalls. We also added a wing in the form of a little something called the National Do Not Call Registry.  Now that the TSR has been around for almost 20 years, we have a question for you:  Does it need some renovation?

The FTC reviews the rules it enforces on a periodic basis to see if any provisions – like harvest gold appliances or rumpus rooms with knotty pine paneling – could use refurbishing. You’ll want to read the Federal Register Notice for the list of specific questions, but here are a few of the things we’d like you to weigh in on:

  • General questions about the future of the TSR.  Is there a continuing need for the Rule?  Why or why not?  What’s the impact on consumers, industry members, and small businesses?  <Linda Richman voice>Discuss among yuhselves</Linda Richman voice>
  • Pre-acquired account information.  “Pre-acquired account information” is information that lets a seller or telemarketer cause a charge to be placed on a consumer’s account without getting the account number directly from that person. Has the TSR’s requirement of “express informed consent” been effective in preventing the illegal use of pre-acquired information to bill people without their affirmative OK?  Should the FTC consider a ban on any use of pre-acquired account information in external upsells?
  • Negative options.  Generally speaking, the TSR applies only to outbound calls placed to consumers. But what about when an ad on TV, radio, etc., offers a product or service sold through a negative option program? Should consumers who call telemarketers and sellers in response to those ads get the same disclosures now required for outbound telemarketing calls?  Why or why not? 

Other specific questions relate to recordkeeping, self-regulatory efforts, new technology, and exemptions to the TSR, but no TSR-related issue is out of bounds. File your comment online by October 14, 2014.

 

8 Comments

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I seem to be getting more calls now than ever before. Both on my home line and on my business number. The business exception is a goldmine for telemarketers, usually having absolutely no connection to my business. I agree with the comment that we should be able to push a code into the phone that would notify an enforcement agency of the call. Robocalls do not identify themselves generally (unless possibly if you listen to the entire spiel, which I do not do.)

I would like to know why the terms 'telemarketer' and 'collectors' are lumped together and do the same terms and laws apply? A collector does very different things in a different way for a different reason than any telemarketer. As far as the 'bad credit' marks, plenty of times for some reason or other, the debts do not go outside of a business, either due to not enough to be sent out, or just do not want to. I have had that happen. I was thankful to be offered to settle, and since I work in positions of accounts payable, do you, or are just trying to 'sell' a product or add to it? I agree, that some restrictions do need to be exercised, as well as the 'without current knowledge' is questionable. I think someone should have a choice at all times. However, people do forget things, and do not read policies. If the sales end of accounts and other people involved would BE SURE to put the transaction in writing at time of purchase, and provide copies of agreement at that time, there might be more people satisfied, as it is easy to be misled or misunderstood when speaking with someone, as the article said, it sometimes easy to change a name or business location with a different owner/business name. If people do not want to be contacted, they should have that right, however, if it is a debt, should they not be notified and how?

Yes, there should be a ban on the use of customer account information. Wither they are trying to sale or collect a debt (telemarketers/collection agencies) cause great hardship to businesses and individuals. I am self employed, so I must answer my phone. They interrupt potential sales and purchases which reduce income and growth. So its great news to hear you will try to implement new was to stop these calls. Banning "pre-acquired account information" is a great way to help consumers with focus on banning the sale of "charged off" debt. If a consumer has gone through hard financial times (layoff, death, unemployment, bad luck etc.) and now they have gotten back on their feet they should not have to deal with a third party telemarketer about a debt that has been charged off. Because once that account information has been sold it becomes a new debt on the consumers credit report. Even though the consumer never had a sign agreement with to the third party. The original debt holder gets a tax write off plus payment for the sale of the bad debt. The consumer now has two dings on their credit report. It doesn't seem fair to the consumer. I'm new to your agency news letters and think your agency does a great job in helping the consumer.

I think the rules should remain and be expanded. I get calls very often from a company I USED to do business with.. and don't anymore because of many issues with them. Want to be able to BLOCK them .. but they will not remove me from their list.

It would be great to have a way to touch tone a code to our phone line provider to report a number as a RoboCaller as well.

I'm generally not for more rules.. but I pay for my phone.. they don't.

Do not call list.
This is a joke.
This does not work.
Start by fixing this one thing first.
Do this first, and then talk about the rest?
Get this right first.

I am on the do not call list, but get calls daily. They are getting more clever. One of the most recent told the story, then allowed you to sign up by staying on the line. Usually, I will tell the caller that I am on the DNC list and not to call, but they drag it out and make it difficult to tell them. You need to expand somehow to stop all calls. I would also add that just because I have donated before should not give them license to avoid the DNC list. Block them too. Please also figure out a way to block spammers. I have done all I could in my computer, but they just keep coming. Thank you.

Yes,Hello I'm writing to comment that what if someone is using all the Google shop free phone service listings of phone numbers to solicit telemarketing calls without authorization and they have that many numbers to switch and change their names to continue their abuse of communication licensing towards consumers.

I think the rules are well draft and work nicely. As a small business owner with a commercial phone number it would be helpful to be able to screen out telemarketers who buy lists with our phone number on it. We don't need energy, paper products, travel advice or anything of the sort. When I complain, they say we'll be removed but it still takes time we don't have. A small business protection program would be great. Thanks for all you do at the agency.

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