FTC Places New Restrictions on Telemarketers

Maureen Mahoney
Public Policy Fellow

Monday, June 27th, 2016

If you’ve been sending complaints to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about unwanted scam callers, they’re hearing you loud and clear. Today, they announced that they are taking some new steps to protect you from scammy telemarketers.

The FTC enforces the Telemarketing Sales Rule, an important law that protects consumers from telemarketing calls and robocalls. This law created the Do Not Call registry, which makes it illegal for telemarketers to call consumers that have registered, unless they have a business relationship with the company. It also requires companies to maintain an internal “Do Not Call list” so that consumers can request to opt out of future calls.

Despite these protections, consumers lose an estimated $350 million a year to phone scammers, and unwanted calls are one of the most complained-about topics to the FTC. Now, the FTC is tightening up the Telemarketing Sales Rule to ban certain payment methods that legitimate telemarketers typically don’t use. These rules kicked in June 13.

The new rules make it illegal for telemarketers to use these types of payments:

  • Remotely created checks and money orders;
  • Cash-to-cash money transfers, like those sold by Moneygram and Western Union; and
  • Cash reload PIN numbers, such as MoneyPak or Vanilla Reload packs.

If a telemarketer tries to get you to use these types of payments, they are breaking the law. Hang up right away and notify the FTC.

Kudos to the FTC for taking these new steps to protect consumers. Still, we think it should be easier for consumers to protect themselves from getting unwanted robocalls in the first place – many of which are from scam callers. We encourage you to join our campaign to push the phone companies to provide free, effective tools to block robocalls.

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