Revised Final Rule Requires Telemarketers to "Scrub" Their Call Lists Every 31 Days; Registered Phone Numbers Top 58 Million; Compliance Remains High
As required by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2004, the Federal Trade Commission in February announced a proposal to amend the "Do Not Call" provisions of the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) to require that telemarketers subject to the Rule access the National Do Not Call Registry and purge numbers on the Registry from their call lists every month, instead of every quarter as the Rule originally required. The Commission today announced that the final amended Rule provisions will become effective on January 1, 2005, with telemarketers required to "scrub" their lists against the Registry at least every 31 days.
In its February notice of proposed rulemaking, the FTC requested comments on the proposed amendment's use of the phrase "thirty (30) days" rather than "once a month," the phrase used in the statute. In the notice, the Commission suggested the "thirty (30) days" language as a way to make the requirement clearer, and to achieve Congress' intent more effectively, which was to shorten from quarterly to monthly the interval for telemarketers and sellers to purge registered telephone numbers from their calling lists - in effect reducing the time consumers have to wait, after registering, for unwanted telemarketing calls to stop.
The FTC received 186 comments in response to the notice of proposed rulemaking from consumers, consumer groups, businesses, and trade associations. The Commission considered these comments in determining what the final rule would be. The Commission chose the interval "thirty-one (31)," as opposed to "thirty (30) days," to provide sellers and telemarketers the maximum time allowable under the Appropriations Act to simplify the process of scrubbing lists on a monthly basis. The Commission set the effective date of the Rule as January 1, 2005, to enable the Commission to modify the Registry system to account for increased download traffic and logic changes, and enable businesses, to the extent necessary, to implement new systems and procedures to accommodate the more frequent scrubbing interval. All of the public comments are available for review on the FTC's Web site.
To date, consumers have registered 58.4 million phone numbers on the Do Not Call Registry, and according to the FTC, most telemarketers have been diligent in their efforts to scrub their lists and to meet the Registry's requirements. A recent Harris® Poll showed high levels of compliance, with a large percentage of telemarketers who are required to download the list and delete newly included numbers doing so on a timely basis.
The Commission vote to approve publication of the Federal Register notice announcing the final rule was 5-0.
Copies of the notice of the final amended Telemarketing Rule and accompanying statement of basis and purpose 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, DC 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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