Law enforcement, education, technology, crowd-sourcing. The FTC fights the battle against illegal telemarketing on every possible front – and here’s the latest development. After considering public comments, the FTC just amended the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) to protect consumers by prying four tools out of the hands of fraudsters.
Blog Posts Tagged with Telemarketing
The search for the Death Star that will destroy illegal robocalls once and for all is still underway, but the solution is one step closer. The FTC just announced that judges have selected winners in Robocalls: Humanity Strikes Back, a contest to come up with tech tools to further the fight against annoying pre-recorded calls. The winner: a mobile app that blocks and forwards robocalls to a crowd-sourced honeypot.
Is the sky blue? Is the Pope Catholic? A July 14th closing letter the FTC staff sent to PayPal addresses another one of those questions with an obvious answer: Are consumers likely to get riled when told that by using a service they’ve “agreed” to receive unsolicited marketing robocalls and text messages?
Caribbean cruises, jet ski outings, trips to Disneyworld, tickets to sporting events and concerts, and even dating service subscriptions. You’d expect to see that on reruns of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.” What you wouldn’t expect is that they were paid for by donations people made to cancer charities.
Call me (call me) on the line.
Call me, call me any, anytime.
We were big Blondie fans, but if the lyrics of “Call Me” are any indication, they’re not the best source of information about complying with the Do Not Call and robocall provisions of the Telemarketing Sales Rule. So we’re turning to FTC attorney Bikram Bandy to get answers to questions that businesses are asking.
What do mystery writers, magicians, and some small business scammers have in common? The art of misdirection. But when it comes to small business scammers, we’re on to their tricks. Today the FTC announced that, at its request, a federal court stopped yellow page scammers that were targeting businesses all over the U.S. with a series of ploys. According to the FTC, this is how it worked.
If you watch as much TV as we do, you may have been tempted to reach for the phone to order the Snuggie, that blanket with sleeves for couch potatoes; Forever Comfy, the answer to rump-sprung chairs; or a host of other items sold by New York-based Allstar Marketing Group. And if one Magic Mesh, Cat's Meow, Roto Punch, or Perfect Tortilla wasn’t enough, the ads reeled buyers in with a “double the offer” buy-one-get-one-free promotion the FTC and New York Attorney General said was misleading.
Before your business cruises its way to violating the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR), you’ll want to pay attention to the FTC’s latest case against telemarketers. The lesson: if the call includes a sales pitch, the TSR applies – no matter what other purpose the call may have.
57,606,609. That’s the staggering number of illegal telemarketing calls a federal judge in Illinois has ruled that satellite TV company Dish Network is liable for. The Order granting partial summary judgment against Dish is the latest development in an ongoing case filed by the Department of Justice on behalf of the FTC and in cooperation with four states – California, Illinois, North Carolina, and Ohio.
It’s called ROSCA – the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act – and it prohibits marketers from charging consumers for an online transaction unless the marketer has clearly disclosed all material terms of the deal and received the consumer’s express informed consent. Your e-commerce clients will want to know about the FTC’s first ROSCA case, filed recently in Nevada.
At the FTC, we consider policy developments or proposed rule changes one rung at a time. An integral step in that process is the public comment period. If you have clients interested in two matters pending at the FTC, they have more time to put pen to paper.
A. This company just settled a case with the FTC for Do Not Call violations and deceptive promises that its purported educational products would improve kids’ grades and standardized test scores.
Q. What is WordSmart?
A box of light bulbs. A case of cleaner. Another box of light bulbs. Ordinary supplies that businesses and nonprofits of all sizes use every day. If these things arrive at your office doorstep, someone in your company or organization must have ordered them, right? And when the bill comes, you have to pay it, right? Well, not necessarily.
If it were a 50s scifi movie, we’d call it “Invasion of the Serenity Snatchers” – illegal and annoying robocalls that disturb consumers’ peace and quiet. The battle continues, of course, but we’re happy to announce the winners of the FTC’s “Zapping Rachel” contest held just a few weeks ago at DEF CON 22.
The contest challenged participants to design a robocall honeypot, a system for attracting robocallers. It’s a critical tool for helping law enforcers, researchers, and others enhance our understanding of robocallers’ tricky tactics.
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.
Acc-cen-tuate the positive.
Eliminate the negative.
Latch on to the affirmative.
And don't mess with Mr. In-Between.
That's how the catchy Bing Crosby-Andrews Sisters number went in the 40s. When it comes to negative options now, the message for marketers is to explain things positively.
Hey, Rachel the Robocaller. Every month we get 150,000 complaints about you and your robocalling besties. We’ve sued dozens of them. We’ve sponsored a national challenge to make your life harder. But this time, Rach, the gloves are off. We’re going DEF CON on you and we’re launching a particularly powerful surface-to-robocall missile with your name on it.
Cramming unauthorized charges onto phone bills violates the FTC Act, of course. But depending on the circumstances, cases like that also can result in criminal prosecution. Two brothers who bilked consumers out of millions as part of a cramming scam are now behind bars – giving a whole new meaning to the term “cell phone.” And the prosecutors who brought the case, Assistant United States Attorneys Hallie Mitchell Hoffman and Kyle F.
There’s not much talk anymore about the Generation Gap – at least not in terms of crazy teens and their rock ‘n’ roll music. But there’s another kind of Generation Gap that has the FTC concerned: the compliance gap between the established standards of the National Do Not Call Registry and the way some companies are using lists from lead generators without careful consideration of how those lists were compiled. An FTC settlement with Versatile Marketing Solutio