For Immediate Release - August 31, 2009

New Rule Eliminates Most Prerecorded Sales Calls Starting Sept. 1

Changes expected to cut down on 'robo-calls' from businesses


Changes expected to cut down on 'robo-calls' from businesses



BOSTON - Aug. 31, 2009 - Starting tomorrow, dinnertime will no longer be interrupted by unwanted "robo-call" sales pitches unless you have given specific written permission in advance. That is the new requirement of a recent amendment to the federal Telemarketing Sales Rule that goes into effect on September 1.

"This is great news for consumers who have been hassled by sales calls that always seem to come at the most inappropriate times," said Barbara Anthony, Undersecretary of the Patrick Administration's Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. Previously, a company with a pre-existing business relationship with a customer could use prerecorded sales messages to reach those customers.

In order for a company to make such calls now, it has to secure the consumer's consent "in writing," such as by having him or her sign a statement agreeing to receive prerecorded messages at a particular phone number. Written consent can be obtained electronically. That means a consumer could merely click a link in an e-mail, check a "yes" box on a website, touch a button on the telephone's keypad, or even give permission orally over the telephone if the call is recorded.

There are some exceptions to the new rule, such as for prerecorded informational calls. These include, for example, schedule updates from an airline, a balance notification from a credit card company, or a reminder about a pre-existing medical appointment. Charities are also exempt from the rule, and for-profit fundraisers working for a charity can use a prerecorded message, but only to call prior donors or members of the charity.

All robo-call sales calls must have an instant opt-out mechanism for call recipients to use if they have changed their mind about receiving such calls.

Consumers are being urged to carefully read any online agreements that may contain consent provisions for prerecorded sales calls. And, for those who have not yet done so, consumers can sign up for the "Do Not Call" list at http://www.DoNotCall.gov.

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