16 CFR Part 310: Telemarketing Sales Rule
There's much outrage and lack of understanding of how violators of telemarketing rules and other telephone harassers could get away with it for as long as they do. The public should be informed of the possible solutions and obstacles to preventing these violations. Then we could better provide suggestions and put pressure on the entities that could help fix the problem. Your public comment notice asked "should the Rule require that the phone number transmitted be one that is listed in publicly available phone directories?" Yes, it should, so consumers could look up the number to confirm its from someone they're willing to do business with and that the number corresponds with the same organization identified by the caller. A monitoring entity, maybe the FTC or a telephone company that's cooperative with law enforcement, should have the ability to determine the true source of a call, maybe through a required identifiable signal transmitted by number changing devices. Companies spoofing their numbers should be required to "register" by making available to the monitoring entity contact information including a phone number where a live representative of the company could be reached. When there are complaints about a number for which no contact person has registered, then no call from that unregistered entity, when made using a number changing device, should be allowed to connect, and action should be taken for noncompliance with the registering requirements. When there are complaints about a number for which there is a registered contact person, the person should be called to confirm whether the company actually is responsible for the calls. If they deny the calls are being made by them or on their behalf then they'd have the option to authorize the phone company to prevent all calls from that number, when the number was altered by a number changing device, from going through. Some questions that I'd like to have answered: Can the devices that are used to change the number that appears on caller ID be tracked and made so they can be periodically eavesdropped on by law enforcement to confirm that the company is using an authorized number? How about eavesdropping to listen to the business's side of the call to confirm complaints such as the company not identifying itself? What are the options for an infrastructure that will make catching violators easier and how much would telephone rates have to increase to pay for it? Would the problem be solved if the government were willing to pay for the solution? Are there are legal obstacles to solving the problem?