Response Magazine Site Response Expo Site Direct Response Market Alliance Site Response TV Site Market Research Job Board

 

   Log in
  

The Voice

Recent News Demonstrates Robocalling Is on Regulators' Radar

6 Mar, 2012 By: Jeffrey D. Knowles, Venable LLP’s Advertising, Mikhia E. Hawkins


On Feb. 15, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved significant changes to its rules regarding telemarketing calls. Among the changes was an update of the agency’s rules governing telemarketing “robocalls” – marketing phone calls that make use of an auto-dialer or artificial or prerecorded voice.

Both the FCC and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have regulatory enforcement authority over marketing telephone calls made to consumers. The FCC’s changes largely harmonize its telemarketing rules, which are enforced under authority granted by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), with the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR). The TSR requires, among other things, that marketers secure prior express written consent for all robocalls to wireless numbers and residential landlines, regardless of whether the calls are to consumers with whom the marketer has a business relationship. It also requires that marketers make automated “opt-out” mechanisms available to consumers that enable them to opt out of receiving future prerecorded calls from the marketer.

In addition, the FCC revised its rules to adopt a “per-calling-campaign” standard for measuring the maximum percentage of live telemarketing sales calls that a telemarketer may lawfully drop or abandon because of the use of autodialing software or other equipment. The agency had previously used a 30-day average of all a marketer’s calls to calculate the marketer’s abandon rate.

Demonstrating that the FTC is also paying attention to robocallers’ practices, the agency announced two settlements with marketers of robocalling technology on February 24. The two companies allegedly marketed Web-based self-service robocall platforms to businesses that enabled the services’ users to make prerecorded sales calls by uploading a recorded message and a list of telephone numbers. The Web-based service would then dial each uploaded phone number and play the uploaded prerecorded message.

The FTC alleged that the robocall service companies violated federal telemarketing laws by enabling telemarketing campaigns that unlawfully called numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry, delivered prerecorded calls without complying with federal requirements for such calls, abandoned calls by playing prerecorded messages after call recipients answered the calls, and failed to disclose the caller’s identity during the calls. The companies’ robocall services allegedly used automated dialing equipment to deliver prerecorded messages.

The two settlements with the robocall self-service companies require that the businesses pay $10,000 to the FTC, with suspended civil penalty judgments of $2 million and $1 million, respectively. Additionally, the settlements prohibit the businesses from violating federal telemarketing laws in the future.

The changes to the FCC’s rules, as well as the recent FTC settlements, demonstrate that regulators are paying attention to the robocalling space. For marketers using robocalls, whether for lead generation, upselling existing clients, or any other reason, it is critical that they understand the regulations governing robocall-based marketing and develop best practices to ensure compliance with the state and federal rules regulating telemarketing.

Jeffrey D. Knowles is a partner at Venable LLP and chair of the firm’s Advertising, Marketing and New Media Group. Mikhia E. Hawkins is an attorney at Venable LLP. They can be reached at (202) 344-4000, or at jdknowles@venable.com and mhawkins@venable.com.


Add Comment



DRMA Spotlight
DRMA Spotlight: Keeping an Edge     1 Oct, 2014

Article By: Thomas Haire

“We’ve always been innovators in the industry — we’ve disrupted it a few times,” says Rob...More>>


22 Oct, 2014

Berge

October 7, 2014 | Article | By Ellen T. Berge, Gregory J. Sater

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) has caused indigestion for businesses wanting to... more>>


Waller

October 7, 2014 | Article | By Jeffrey Richter, John Waller

In 1993, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reluctantly chose not to define what “natural”... more>>


Rothbard

October 7, 2014 | Article | By William I. Rothbard

My last article and others before discussed a new core enforcement strategy at the Federal Trade... more>>


Knowles

September 9, 2014 | Article | By Jeffrey D. Knowles, Leonard L. Gordon

If the beginning of football season were a holiday (and we know it is for some of you), it would... more>>


Rothbard

September 9, 2014 | Article | By William I. Rothbard

We think of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as an anti-deception agency, and it is just that.... more>>



DRMA-Spotlight_Image_Cannella

October 1, 2014 | Article | By Thomas Haire

“We’ve always been innovators in the industry — we’ve disrupted it a few times,” says Rob... more>>


DRMA-Spotlight_Image_O2

September 1, 2014 | Article | By Thomas Haire

O2 Media is a fully integrated media and television production company, based in Pompano Beach,... more>>


DRMA-Spotlight_Image_GSD

August 1, 2014 | Article | By Thomas Haire

“When Rob Albert and I formed Grand Slam Direct, we didn’t want to be just another production... more>>


DRMA-Spotlight_Image_vantive

July 1, 2014 | Article | By Thomas Haire

Vantiv, based in Symmes Township, Ohio — with offices in Dallas, Houston, Louisville, Tinley... more>>


648350

April 1, 2014 | Article | By Thomas Haire

Higher Power Marketing is a Phoenix-based per-inquiry (PI) advertising agency and Direct Response... more>>



July 23, 2015 | Event

The Direct Response Marketing Alliance (DRMA) hosts its annual Summer Bash each July in Southern... more>>


April 21, 2015 | Event

Join 3,000 direct, digital and data-driven marketing decision makers at the industry’s foremost... more>>


March 9, 2015 | Event

The DRMA's Chicago Networking Party takes place during the International Home + Housewares Show in... more>>



MOY

February 23, 2012 | News

Coming up on its fourth year, the DRMA Marketer of the Year Award is the most coveted award in the... more>>