Robocalls Bite the Dust…With Exceptions

Sunday, August 30, 2009
(photo: Markku Lahdesmaki)

As of Tuesday it will be illegal for businesses hocking goods or services to use prerecorded commercial telemarketing calls—or robocalls—according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). An FTC ruling going into effect on Sept. 1 outlaws telemarketers from using automated phone messages unless consumers choose to receive such calls.

“American consumers have made it crystal clear that few things annoy them more than the billions of commercial telemarketing robocalls they receive every year,” said Jon Leibowitz, chairman of the FTC, in a prepared statement. Leibowitz added that “this bombardment of prerecorded pitches, senseless solicitations, and malicious marketing” will not be tolerated, and businesses violating the rule will be subject to a $16,000 fine per robocall.
There are exceptions to the new FTC rule, however. Businesses delivering purely “informational” recorded messages, such as notifications of cancelled flights or that an appliance is ready for pickup, will still be acting within the law. The ban also does not prohibit debt collectors from using robocalls to track down deadbeat consumers, and it has no power over politicians, banks, telephone carriers, and most charities that use robocalls to contact people.
-Noel Brinkerhoff


Leave a comment