WASHINGTON (CN) - Concerned by technology that allows telemarketers to shield their identity from caller ID devices, the Federal Trade Commission seeks public comment on whether its Telemarketing Sales Rule should be amended.
Better ID information could improve the ability of consumers and law enforcement to identify entities responsible for illegal marketing practices.
Regulations in place since 2003 make it an abusive marketing practice for any seller or telemarketer to fail to transmit the telephone number and name of the telemarketer to any Caller ID service used by the recipient of the call. Telemarketers are allowed to substitute the name of the seller or the charitable organization on whose behalf the call is being made, and their customer service telephone number in place of the telemarketing firm's own name and the phone number from which the call originated.
New technologies however allow telemarketers to work around Caller ID systems. The FTC says it has received tens of thousands of complaints on telemarketing calls that transmit strings of digits that do not correspond to a working telephone number.
Another practice the FTC says subverts the intent of the TSR is providing telephone numbers that have only a remote connection to the organization originating the call and that when called will either not be answered at all or will be answered by a person or automated system that will not allow the consumer to determine the purpose of the original call.
Telemarketers have also taken to manipulating their identification data so that Caller ID systems show generic messages such as "Warranty Alert" that do not allow the consumer to identify the telemarketer or the seller.
Before proceeding with new regulation, the agency wants to know if the use of caller ID to screen calls is widespread, and the role telephone service providers play in allowing telemarketers, sellers and charitable organization to manipulate their caller number and name information for telemarketing calls.
The FTC will accept comments until Jan. 28.
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