TopMortgage Compliance Update (1)

December 16, 2010
FTC: Telemarketing and Caller ID

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The Federal Trade Commission announced on December 7, 2010 that it is seeking public comments on whether and how to strengthen the Caller ID provisions of the Telemarketing Sales Rule.

The notice was published in the Federal Register on December 15, 2010.

By requiring telemarketers to provide Caller ID information, the Rule allows consumers to screen out unwanted calls. The FTC seeks comments on how to make Caller ID more useful to consumers and combat technologies that hide telemarketers' identities.

Currently, the Rule's Caller ID provisions require telemarketers to provide consumers who use Caller ID services with either a telephone number for the telemarketer or the number of the seller or charitable organization represented by the telemarketer. Some Caller ID services also display names of up to 15 characters to identify the caller.

Under the Rule, telemarketers must provide the name of the telemarketer, seller, or charitable organization to such Caller ID services, if the telemarketer's carrier makes this available.

The Caller ID regulations give telemarketers flexibility in determining what telephone numbers to transmit, and in determining whether the name of the telemarketer, or the name of the seller or charity, is displayed on Caller ID services. The Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking does not put forward a specific plan for strengthening the Telemarketing
Sales Rule's Caller ID provisions.

Instead, it provides information on how Caller ID services work, and explains how the benefits of Caller ID services are undermined when telemarketers use technology to block transmission of Caller ID, to transmit false information, or to transmit a telephone number or name that does not clearly identify the source of the call.

Deadline for Written Comments: January 28, 2011.

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Questions reviewed by the FTC
  • How widespread is consumer use of Caller ID services to screen unwanted calls, and do consumers use other services that rely on the transmission of calling party numbers (CPN), such as call-blocking equipment, to avoid unwelcome telemarketing calls?
  • Would changes to the Telemarketing Sales Rule improve the ability of Caller ID services to accurately disclose the source of telemarketing calls or improve the ability of service providers to block calls in which information on the source of the call is not available, or has been spoofed?
  • Should the FTC amend the Caller ID provisions of the Rule to recognize or anticipate specific developments in telecommunications technologies relating to the transmission and use of Caller ID information, and if so, how?
  • Should the FTC amend the Caller ID provisions of the Rule to further specify the characteristics of the phone number that a telemarketer must transmit to a Caller ID service? (For example, should the Rule require that the phone number transmitted be one that is listed in publicly available phone directories, a number with an area code and prefix that are associated with the physical location of the telemarketer's place of business, a number that is answered by a live representative, or automated service that identifies the telemarketer by name?)
  • Should the FTC amend the Caller ID provisions to allow a seller or telemarketer to use trade names or product names, rather than the actual name of the seller or telemarketer, in the name information displayed by Caller ID services?
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FTC: Telemarketing Sales Rule, Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking - Request for Public Comments
Federal Register: 75/240

December 15, 2010

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