Consumers Can Opt-Out of Prerecorded Messages

January 04, 2009

Tired of prerecorded telephone messages? The Federal Trade Commission, which partners with Better Business Bureau®, has announced that any telemarketing call that delivers a prerecorded message must now include a quick and easy way to opt-out of receiving future calls. The opt-out must work both for consumers who answer these calls in person and for those whose answering machines or voicemail services receive the calls.

Prerecorded telemarketing messages are permitted only when the caller has an established business relationship with the consumer. Now, under Do Not Call amendments that became effective Dec. 1, any permitted prerecorded message must provide the consumer with an interactive means to opt out of receiving future calls. Moreover, the consumer must be able to opt out at any time while the message is playing by pressing a particular number or speaking a particular word. Once the consumer has opted out, his or her phone number must be automatically added to the in-house Do Not Call list of the calling seller or fundraiser. Then the call immediately must be disconnected so that the consumer’s line is cleared.

If the prerecorded telemarketing message is left on an answering machine or voicemail service, it must include a toll-free opt-out number that, when called, also connects to an automated voice or keypress opt-out mechanism. This will allow consumers to opt out at any hour of the day or night when they retrieve the message, without having to wait until the next business day to call.

All recorded telemarketing calls subject to the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule must comply with the new requirements, including calls to solicit sales of goods or services and calls placed by telemarketers to solicit charitable donations. Some calls delivering prerecorded messages (such as political calls, bona fide market survey calls, and calls made in-house by banks or telephone companies) are not covered by the new requirement, however, because the Commission lacks the legal authority to regulate them. For more information on the new rule, visit

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