February 2006 - Call Compliance News
The FTC has announced permanent settlement with the founder of Ameridebt, Inc., which bars the company from engaging in credit counseling, debt management, or other credit education activities as well as violating the Telemarketing Sales Rule. The founder of the organization was also required to disgorge nearly all of his personal assets. The suit alleged that he deceived consumers regarding the nonprofit status of the organization.
The Federal Trade Commission continues to argue that prerecorded telephone calls placed on behalf of a charity are “abandoned” even though calls are legal under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has held that federal courts do have diversity jurisdiction over private causes of action brought under the TCPA. Prior to this case, nearly every state has dismissed TCPA actions because the statute says they are to be brought in state court.
A court in Texas has ruled that prior to 1999, Texas did not allow TCPA cases in its court and therefore has dismissed a case filed for illegal faxes prior to 1999.
An Arizona court has ruled that text messages sent to cellular telephone numbers are subject to the restrictions of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
A Florida bill would amend the state’s telemarketing law to prohibit any telephone sales calls to cellular telephone numbers without prior consent.
A bill has been proposed in the Indiana House which would provide that unsolicited facsimile advertisements are deceptive acts and allow the attorney general to recover civil penalties of up to $1,500 for the transmission of an unsolicited facsimile.
A bill has been proposed in the Kansas Senate which would require all local telephone companies to annually provide residential subscribers with information on the Kansas and national “do-not-call” lists.
A bill has been proposed in the Mississippi Senate which would reenact the Mississippi State Telephone Solicitation Act.
A bill has been introduced in the Missouri House which would add wireless business subscribers to the state “do-not-call” list. As the “do-not-call” lists have been upheld solely based on protection of residential privacy, it is unlikely that business numbers can be added to the list. However, all calls to cellular telephones are prohibited by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act unless the subscriber has expressly consented to the call or the call is made without the use of a predictive dialer (“hand to dial”).
Another bill in Missouri would add text messages to the definition of Telephone Solicitation regulated by the Missouri “do-not-call” list.
A remodeling company has settled with the State of New Jersey for $151,500.00 regarding allegations of calls made in violation of state “do-not-call” law.
A bill has been proposed in the New Jersey General Assembly which would amend the state’s telemarketing statute to specifically prohibit the use of deceptive caller identification names or numbers. This practice is already illegal under federal law.
Another bill in New Jersey would require that consent to telemarketing calls be made in writing and contain the telephone number and signature of the consumer. The existing/established customer language in the statute remains unchanged (i.e. the bifurcated established business relationship exemption in New Jersey law would not be affected by this bill).
A bill in the New Jersey Assembly would prohibit any cellular telephone company from disclosing information about their customers to third parties without express written consent. This bill is aimed at the rumor that cellular telephones will soon begin selling directories of their subscribers.
A bill in the New Jersey Assembly would allow firefighting and other emergency service providers to add their names to New Jersey’s telemarketing “do-not-call” list. Telemarketing sales calls to these numbers would already be illegal under federal law.
A bill in the New Jersey Assembly would create a credit card “do-not-solicit” list for mentally ill individuals and senior citizens who are not to be solicited for credit cards.
A bill has been proposed in New Jersey which would add political calls to the telemarketing “do-not-call” lists, thus barring political calls to telephone numbers in the same circumstance as the telephone sales calls are barred.
A bill has been proposed in the Ohio House which would require disclosure of the physical location of the telephone solicitor in any telephone call.
The Pennsylvania House has requested that the state’s Attorney General and Public Utilities Commission investigate automated telephone messages received inside Pennsylvania disguised as political calls. The resolution alleges that Pennsylvania citizens were unknowingly charged toll fees and the resulting calls interfered with the ability of legislative offices to render constituent services.
The Utah Senate has proposed a bill which would amend its state telemarketing statute to specifically provide that a company specific “do-not-call” request terminates any established business relationship between the caller and consumer, incorporates the Telephone Consumer Protection Act regulations into Utah Law, and provides that a consumer can sue in state court for violations of the TCPA. The bill would also require that telephone solicitors provide, upon request, the true name of the telephone soliciting business, the businesses address and telephone number.
The bill in the Washington House would prohibit using lists obtained from public sources for commercial purposes including telemarketing. “List” would mean any collection of records obtained from any state or local government agency. The constitutionality of this restriction is extremely questionable.