April 2008 - Call Compliance News
William E. Kovacic has assumed the role of Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission replacing Debra Platte Majoras. It is uncertain how, if at all, this change in leadership will affect the FTC’s enforcement of telemarketing statutes.
The FTC has charged two data brokers with failing to secure information in their databases including customer names, dates of birth, and social security numbers.
The FTC has proposed authorization of the FTC Act which would eliminate the exemptions found in the FTC’s jurisdiction for communications, common carriers, and nonprofit organizations. This is a huge power grab by the FTC over entities traditionally regulated by other regulators.
The FTC has announced a settlement with a retail company regarding its failure to safeguard sensitive consumer information including credit card numbers, expiration dates, and security codes. The FTC charged that the company unnecessarily risked credit card information by storing it indefinitely in clear readable text on its network and as a result a hacker was able to obtain sensitive consumer information. The settlement requires that the retailer obtain an independent third party security auditor to implement safeguards on its system
The FTC has again issued a press release regarding telemarketing and cell phones. Contrary to some e-mails, cell phone numbers are not being released to telemarketers. The FCC has implemented regulations to the TCPA which prohibit automated calls to cell phones absent the express consent of the consumer. The National Do-Not-Call Registry does accept cell phone numbers.
The FTC has announced a settlement with three telephone bill aggregators following a $1.9 million payment for consumer regress related to “cramming” charges. The settlement would prohibit the companies from misrepresenting that consumers are obligated to pay telecommunications charges that they have not expressly authorized. The total amount of the judgment was more than $30 million.
The FTC has agreed to a $413,000 civil penalty with an internet company which used e-mail in violation of CAN-SPAM to drive customers to adult websites. Enforcement of CAN-SPAM is rare which makes this substantial monetary payment notable.
National Do Not Call Registry
PossibleNow, a company with unmatched expertise with regard to national “do-not-call” list analysis, has identified a series of errors in national “do-not-call” list data during the month of February, 2008. If a compliance issue arises for your company regarding data in that period, you should be aware that this problem existed which could provide some defense in the event of FTC enforcement action.
A bill has been proposed in the California Senate (SB 1423) which would prohibit telephone companies from charging subscribers to have their mobile telephone number unlisted in a directory or through directory assistance.
The California General Assembly is considering a bill (AB 2059) which would amend California’s Business and Professions Code to require that anyone who solicits by mail a recipient’s consent to receive information via telephone disclose in a clear and conspicuous fashion that the recipient will be waiving rights under federal “do-not-call” law by consenting to receive that information.
A well known TCPA plaintiff has lost his case in California when the appellate court ruled that his cause of action, alleged automated calls to his paging service, was barred by the statute of limitation.
An Illinois court has certified a class of recipients of unsolicited facsimile advertisements alleged in violation of the TCPA.
The Louisiana Senate is considering a bill (SB 431) which would impose a curfew on telemarketing calls prohibiting calls between the hours of 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m.
The Michigan Senate is considering a bill (SB 1245) which would require that telemarketers transmit caller identification information.
A bill has been proposed in the Nebraska Legislature which would prohibit political prerecorded messages outside the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. The bill would also require that the message state clearly the identity of the person on whose behalf the message is being transmitted and include a telephone number.
A telemarketer, on behalf of a charity, has agreed to a $25,000 payment for fees in lieu of civil penalties to the State of North Dakota for alleged violations of North Dakota “do-not-call” laws. The charity reached a separate agreement which included a $1,000 fine.
A United States District Court in Ohio has ruled against a well known TCPA plaintiff with regard to his claim that the TCPA allowed damages for alleged violations of its provisions in the “first call”, even though the statute only allowed a cause of action if the consumer had received more than one telephone call in violation of the regulations. The plaintiff had alleged more than 187 violations of regulations during 10 separate telephone calls. The court ruled that the TCPA only provided damages per telephone call, not per violation (Charvat v. GVN Michigan, Inc.).
An individual who was sued by the state of Oklahoma challenged the disclosure provision found in the TCPA regarding the identification of a person responsible for a prerecorded telephone call. The appellate court ruled that a district court’s order should be dissolved because the plaintiff failed to notify the United States’ Attorney General of the constitutional challenge.
The Pennsylvania Senate is considering a bill (SB 820) which would amend the state’s telemarketing registration law to require registration with the attorney general at least 30 days prior to marketing in the state. The bill would still exempt businesses licensed or registered with the Federal Commonwealth Agency.
West Virginia has passed a law amending its telemarketing statute (SB 272) which makes minor changes to the definition of “telemarketer”.