16 CFR Part 310: Telemarketing Sales Rule #00038 

Submission Number:
Seth Heyman
Heyman Law Office
Initiative Name:
16 CFR Part 310: Telemarketing Sales Rule
It is important that the Commission first take into consideration that enhanced regulations only affect those who choose to comply with them. Any increased compliance responsibilities will likely place an unwarranted burden on companies that comply with the rules by properly identifying themselves. Caller ID spoofing can make a call appear to have come from any phone number the caller chooses. Because of the high trust consumers appear to have in the Caller ID system, they believe without question that any information on their Caller ID is accurate. Spoofing allows criminals to easily misdirect regulatory attention to the legitimate companies they may be impersonating. The practice of spoofing calls the entire system’s value into question. Further, this insidious practice threatens to thwart the FTC’s efforts to enforce the TSR. Should the FTC take Caller ID information as gospel, it runs the risk of initiating actions against blameless organizations, damaging their reputations and their businesses, without locating the true perpetrators. In short, Caller ID is virtually useless as an aid to law enforcement, and spoofing has the very real potential for turning the FTC into an unwitting accomplice of the very criminals it is charged with stopping. Until it is possible to prevent the subversion of the Caller ID system, Caller ID information should be completely disregarded as evidence of any violation. That being said, please take into consideration the following specific comments: Query: Would changes to the Telemarketing Sales Rule improve the ability of Caller ID services to accurately disclose the source of telemarketing calls? Comment: Anyone with access to an automatic dialing device configured with freely available software can spoof an unlimited number of calls. By its very nature, spoofing makes it very difficult to track down those responsible for the practice. Therefore, the FTC should impose further compliance obligations on companies that offer Caller ID spoofing services. They should be required to register with the FTC and be held liable for the actions of their clients. The FTC should also establish a mechanism to enable organizations that use Caller ID and spoofing technology for legitimate purposes to privately register their identities and whatever information that they provide via Caller ID with the FTC. When responding to complaints regarding a registered company, this information would better enable the FTC to informally investigate whether a call was truly initiated by a registered organization. Query: Should the FTC amend Caller ID provisions to further specify the characteristics of a the phone number that a telemarketer must transmit? Comment: It is essential that companies be able to utilize a unique caller ID for each campaign. Many companies gauge the effectiveness of campaigns on return calls to Caller ID numbers, and are thus better able to oversee compliance and customer service issues. In addition, using the same Caller ID number on larger calling campaigns would likely overwhelm the lines pointing to that number, and render consumers unable to reach any living representative or automated service. Query: Should the FTC amend the Caller ID provisions to allow a seller or telemarketer to use trade names or product names? Comment: Using a trade or product name is often necessary, because technology limits the number of characters that can be included on Caller ID to fifteen. This means that sellers or telemarketers, whose actual names exceed this limit can not comply with the law unless they are permitted to use trade names, product names, or a brief description of the nature of the call. It should also be noted that names and other information sent via Caller ID often do not appear on cell phones, despite the fact that the caller did provide the information.