A new Federal Trade Commission rule has banned prerecorded telemarketing calls unless the telemarketer has obtained permission, in writing, that the call’s recipient wants to receive the messages.
The new prohibiting the so-called “robocalls” took effect in September.
Telemarketers who violate the new rule face penalties of up to $16,000 per call.
FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said consumers made it “crystal clear” that few things annoy them more than receiving robocalls.
“This bombardment of prerecorded pitches, senseless solicitations and malicious marketing (is now) illegal. If consumers think they’re being harassed by robocallers, they need to let us know and we will go after them,” Leibowitz said.
The new requirement is part of amendments to the agency’s Telemarketing Sales Rule that were announced a year ago.
The amendments do not prohibit calls that deliver purely “informational” recorded messages – those that notify recipients, for example, that their flight has been cancelled, an appliance they ordered will be delivered at a certain time or that their child’s school opening is delayed. Such calls are not covered by the ruling, as long as they do not attempt to interest consumers in the sale of any goods or services.
The rule amendments also do not apply to calls concerning collection of debts where the calls do not seek to promote the sale of any goods or services.
In addition, calls not covered by the FTC legislation – including those from politicians, banks, telephone carriers and most charitable organizations – are not covered by the new prohibition. The new prohibition on prerecorded messages also does not apply to certain healthcare messages.
The new rule prohibits telemarketing robocalls to consumers whether or not they previously have done business with the seller.
Anyone receiving prerecorded telemarketing calls but have not agreed to get them can file a complaint with the FTC, either through the donotcall.gov website or by calling 1-888-382-1222.