16 CFR Part 310: Telemarketing Sales Rule #00049 

Submission Number:
Christopher Irving
Publishers Clearing House
New York
Initiative Name:
16 CFR Part 310: Telemarketing Sales Rule
Publishers Clearing House (PCH) appreciates this opportunity to comment on the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding Caller ID. Since 1953, Publishers Clearing House has been a well-known household name to consumers offering value based consumer product and magazine offerings through on-line and direct mail promotions. Starting in 1967, PCH promotions have featured the famous free-by-mail sweepstakes that has become part of Americana. PCH has awarded over $225 Million in major prizes to consumers in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Over the years, Publishers Clearing House has received reports from consumers and consumer protection authorities regarding illegal and fraudulent offers posing as legitimate sweepstakes and seeking some form of payment from consumers to collect a non-existent prize. These reports include scams by phone, e-mail and direct mail. In many cases, the Publishers Clearing House name or sound-alike name is illegally used. We share these reports directly with law enforcement and consumer protection authorities and maintain a comprehensive database of such reports to assist in such enforcement efforts. Recently, Publishers Clearing House has received an increase of reports from consumers stating scam artists are calling their homes and falsifying the information that appears on their Caller ID. In such cases, consumers may believe the individual on the other end of the call is associated with the real PCH. Once such trust is established, scam artists will use one of many false premises seeking to have the consumer send or wire money to collect a non-existent prize. This fraudulent use of Caller ID not only harms our business reputation but also preys on unassuming consumers. In the interest of consumers and industry alike, Publishers Clearing House supports an increase in the enforcement of current laws against the fraudulent use of Caller ID. We note that a current online search brings up a large number of sites offering the visitor the ability to create a completely new Caller ID of your choosing. We would urge the Commission to review such sites and determine if they are operating under the current law or may need to be restricted in some manner. PCH further suggests the consideration of the development of new technology that prevents fraudulent information to appear on the Caller ID. Finally, PCH believes that the FTC should establish rules to require Caller ID service providers to be able to trace calls and to reveal the calling party in the case of fraudulent use of Caller ID. Such a rule would significantly increase the resources available to locate and penalize the fraudulent individuals. A more detailed comment from Publishers Clearing House that expands on the above information is attached.