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.