February 20, 2012
On February 15, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) unanimously adopted new restrictions on autodialed and prerecorded telemarketing calls, commonly referred to as “robocalls.” The action is designed to harmonize the FCC's Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) rules with the Federal Trade Commission's Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR.)
The FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule already prohibits many telemarketers from making robocalls to residential subscribers without prior written consent. The FCC’s action expands the ban on calling residential subscribers not on the Do Not Call registry to entities the FCC regulates but that fall outside the FTC’s jurisdiction, such as banks and common carriers. In addition, the FTC's rules apply only to interstate telemarketing calls. This rule will expand application to robocalls made within a single state.
The new rules will go into effect once they are approved by the Office of Management and Budget.
The Robocall rules do not impose any new obligations on non-telemarketing or "informational" calls, such as calls regarding dues reminders. It also does not extend the new requirements to calls by or on behalf of tax-exempt non-profit organizations and calls for political purposes.
The decision maintains existing restrictions on the delivery of autodialed informational calls and prerecorded informational messages to wireless telephone numbers (which currently require callers to obtain prior express consent, but not prior express written consent).
For more information, see the FCC's guide: