Federal Trade Commission Bans Commercial Robocalls

August 31, 2009

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced today that beginning September 1, prerecorded  commercial telemarketing calls, or “robocalls,” will be illegal unless telemarketers have written permission from consumers who wish to be contacted in that manner.  

Each year consumers are bombarded with robocalls that offer a range of dubious services, such as offers to lower consumer’s credit card interest rates, or calls claiming that the consumer’s auto warranty is set to expire.

"For years we have taken hundreds of calls from angry consumers wanting to know how to get these type of calls to stop," said Kim States, BBB President. "The companies making these calls don't heed the do not call ruling and consumers have found no relief from the harassment. This action is welcome and long overdue."

Under the regulation, each unlawful robocall made to a consumer will result in a $16,000 fine for the telemarketer. The new rule is part of amendments made to the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR), which became law in 2008.

The amendment to TSR covers commercial telemarketing calls only. Robocalls from banks, politicians, telephone carriers, and most charitable organizations will still be permitted under the law. The amendment also allows for the continuation of certain prerecorded health care messages, the FTC said in a press release.

If a consumer receives a robocall after September 1, they can report the violation to the FTC by visiting, http://ftc.gov, or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP.