The Federal Trade Commission has extended the public comment period for proposed changes to its Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR). A Federal Register notice announcing the extension of the public comment period until April 15, 2002 will be published shortly.
In late January, the Commission announced a proposal to amend the TSR by, among other things, creating a centralized national "Do Not Call" registry. The proposed registry would enable consumers to eliminate most telemarketing calls simply by making one call to the FTC. The proposal is a key component of the privacy initiative that FTC Chairman Timothy J. Muris announced in early October 2001.
The highlights of the FTC's proposed amendments are provided below. A detailed summary of these proposals can be found in the notice of proposed rulemaking, which has been published in the Federal Register and is available at www.ftc.gov.
Through the proposed rulemaking, the Commission is seeking to:
- Supplement the current company-specific "Do Not Call" provision with an additional provision that will enable a consumer to stop calls from all companies within the FTC's jurisdiction by registering with a central "do-not-call" list maintained by the FTC;
- Permit a consumer who registers with the central "Do Not Call" list to receive telemarketing sales calls from an individual company or charitable organization to which the consumer has provided his or her express verifiable authorization to make telemarketing calls to the consumer;
- Modify § 310.3(a)(3) to require express verifiable authorization for all transactions in which the payment method lacks dispute resolution protection or protection against unauthorized charges similar or comparable to those available under the Fair Credit Billing Act and the Truth in Lending Act;
- Delete § 310.3(a)(3)(iii), the provision allowing a telemarketer to obtain express verifiable authorization by confirming the transaction in writing prior to submitting the customer's billing information for payment;
- Require, in the sale of credit card protection, the disclosure of the legal limits on a cardholder's liability for unauthorized charges;
- Prohibit misrepresenting that a consumer needs offered goods or services in order to receive protections he or she already has under 15 U.S.C. § 1643 (limiting a cardholder's liability for unauthorized charges on a credit card account);
- Mandate, explicitly, that all required disclosures in § 310.3(a)(1) and § 310.4(d) be made truthfully;
- Expand upon the current prize promotion disclosures to include a statement that any purchase or payment will not increase a consumer's chances of winning;
- Prohibit the practices of receiving any consumer's billing information from any third party for use in telemarketing, or disclosing any consumer's billing information to any third party for use in telemarketing;
- Prohibit additional practices: blocking or otherwise subverting the transmission of the name and/or telephone number of the calling party for caller identification service purposes; and denying or interfering in any way with a consumer's right to be placed on a "Do Not Call" list;
- Clarify that the use of predictive dialers resulting in "dead air" violates the Rule;
- Narrow certain of the Rule's exemptions;
- Clarify that facsimile transmissions, electronic mail, and other similar methods of delivery are direct mail for purposes of the direct mail exemption; and
- Make all changes necessary to implement the USA PATRIOT Act amendments to the Telemarketing Act by expanding the TSR to cover the solicitation of charitable contributions by for-profit telemarketers.
Opportunity for Public Comment
Six paper copies of each written comment regarding the proposed amendments should be sent by April 15, 2002 to: FTC, Office of the Secretary, Room 159, 600 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. All comments should also be submitted, if possible, electronically on computer disk, with a label stating the name of the commenter and the name and version of the word processing program used to create the document. In addition, the Commission will accept comments that are submitted to the following e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org, if the information is organized in sequentially numbered paragraphs. All written comments and electronic submissions should be identified as "Telemarketing Rulemaking - Comment. FTC File No. R411001." Individual members of the public filing comments need not submit multiple copies or comments in electronic form.
The Public Forum
The public forum announced in the Federal Register notice will be held at FTC Headquarters after the close of the public comment period. Parties interested in attending the forum should submit their request in writing on or before April 15, 2002 to: Carole Danielson, FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection, Division of Marketing Practices, 600 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580.
For More Information
For additional information on the TSR, the notice of proposed rulemaking, or the upcoming public forum, contact: Catherine Harrington-McBride, 202-326-2452 (e-mail: email@example.com); Karen Leonard, 202-326-3597 (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org); or Carole Danielson, 202-326-3115 (e-mail: email@example.com).
The Commission vote to approve publication of the Federal Register notice announcing the extension of the comment period was 5-0.
Copies of the Federal Register notice are available from the FTC's Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To file a complaint, or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at http://www.ftc.gov. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
(FTC File No. R411001)
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