February-March 2008 - Call Compliance News
The Federal Communications Commission has actually rescinded a citation based on an erroneous consumer complaint which the calling business then rebutted. Previously, the FCC did not rescind these citations even when a business showed that the consumer complaint was in error.
The FCC has issued a forfeiture notice against a mortgage company (“In the Matter of AZ Prime One Mortgage Corporation”) for alleged violations of the national “do-not-call” list fining the company $10,000. The mortgage company was issued a citation in 2007, but the mortgage company did not respond to that citation. The FCC generally can not fine a company unless it first issues a citation in response to a consumer complaint. As set forth above, the FCC often will conduct an interview and gather evidence if the company has a valid defense to the citation. Companies which are normally regulated by the FCC, such as telephone companies may be fined without a citation first being issued, however.
FTC Chairwoman Debra Platte Morales has announced that she will be leaving the FTC in late March. She was appointed to the position by President Bush on August 16, 2004.
A representative of the FTC testified before a U.S. House Committee about consumer protection with regard to financial services. The FTC has focused its enforcement actions on the mortgage lending industry and the subprime market in particular.
The FTC has obtained a contempt citation against a payment processor after he allegedly violated a temporary restraining order, but continued to engage in payment processing and misappropriated assets which were in receivership. The individual also allegedly hid 13 boxes of corporate records. The original complaint involved allegations of violation of the Telemarketing Sales Rule including advance-fee credit cards. No consumer ever received a credit card promised by the sales people.
The U.S. Congress has passed a bill lowering the cost of the national “do-not-call” list to $54.00 per area code and $14,850.00 for all area codes. Businesses purchasing fewer than five area codes will still not be charged, and future price increases will be governed by the consumer inflation rate. The price decrease goes into effect in October, 2008.
A bill has been proposed in the Alaska House (HB 380) which would bar all prerecorded messages for the purpose of offering goods or services for sale, soliciting information, gathering the statistics or promoting a political campaign.
A bill has been proposed in the California General Assembly (AB 2059) which would require that solicitations by mail that solicit consent for a later phone call disclose the inapplicability of the “do-not-call” list to such calls.
A bill has been proposed in the California Senate (SB 1389) which would bar any business from withholding display of caller ID when calls are for telemarketing purposes.
A bill has been proposed in the Colorado Senate (SB 146) which would bar all prerecorded messages, whether for solicitation or not, without the express consent of the recipient or when preceded by a live operator who obtains the consumer’s express consent. Calls to established customers would be exempt.
A bill has been proposed in the Kansas House (HB 2698) which would establish an 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. central time curfew for telemarketing calls and apply this restriction to any prerecorded telephone call.
The State of Kentucky has ruled that telemarketing companies affiliated by owner should each separately need to register as a telemarketer if they meet the definitions of the Act. One company’s registration will not apply to sister companies.
A San Francisco company which allegedly used prerecorded telephone calls to sell credit card consolidation and credit counseling services agreed to pay $152,000 to the state of Missouri and stop calling consumers on the state “do-not-call” list. The attorney general also alleged that some of the statements contained in the telephone calls were false.
The New Jersey General Assembly is considering a bill (AB 1225) which would add political telemarketing calls to those banned by the No-Call List Act.
A bill is being considered by the New Jersey Senate (SB 423) which would bar prerecorded messages to any consumer whose number is included on the federal “do-not-call” list unless there was a current relationship between the caller and the recipient. The bill would apply to political calls.
A bill is being considered in the West Virginia House (HB 2004) which would require that 50% of money raised by telemarketing efforts by quasi state agencies be transmitted to the agency for which it was raised.
The West Virginia House is considering a bill (HB 2139) which would implement a state “do-not-call” list administered by the Public Service Commission. Consumers would be required to pay a fee to add their name to the state “do-not-call” list.
The West Virginia House is considering another bill (HB 3148) which would bar the use of automatic dialing announcing devices without the knowing consent of the recipient. The bill would also impose certain disclosure requirements on such calls.
A bill has been proposed in the Wisconsin General Assembly (AB 843) which would amend the state’s “do-not-call” law to eliminate the two year registration period and only remove consumer names upon express consumer request.
A bill has been proposed in the Wisconsin Senate (SB 99) which would require quarterly updates to the state “do-not-call” list.